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Chucho Vald: Briyumba Palo Congo

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No stars How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Using an augmented piano trio for his latest project, Chucho Valdés has put together a session of Afro-Cuban excitement with unique tributes to Duke Ellington and George Gershwin. Lyrical acoustic bassist Francisco Rubio Pampin insures that the swing never strays too far from center. Several percussionists and guest vocalists, including Valdés’ sister Mayra round out the ensemble.

The pianist plays with a big forceful hand, as percussive as the drums. Blue Note describes the leader’s style: "Like McCoy Tyner, Valdés can evoke thunder-like chords punctuated by lighting-fast arpeggios and like Bill Evans, he can make the keyboard sing with a rainbow of impressionistic harmonic and melodic colors." A considerable amount of background information is available from http://www.bluenote.com .

"Caravan" is up-tempo and solid, while "Embraceable You" is performed minimally in lush ballad style. Similarly, Valdés’ ballad "Bolero" offers piano and bass the opportunity to transpose emotional sighs over light hand drum rhythms. "El Rumbón" and "Pónle la Clave," on the other hand, couple fierce fighting rhythms with the pianist’s powerful and confident keystroke combinations. The latter piece, a mambo in 7/4, is central to the album and highly representative of Valdés’ music. Highly Recommended.

Track Listing: El Rumb

Personnel: Chucho Vald

Record Label: Blue Note Records

Style: Latin/World


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