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Mambo Kings: Live! (2006)

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Mambo Kings: Live! How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

The Mambo Kings' 2004 debut recording, Marinera, was a good example of solid Latin jazz. The group, which was founded in 1997 in Rochester, New York, returns two years later with the same lineup: Richard Delaney, piano; John Viavattine, tenor and soprano sax, flute; John Viavattine,Jr. electric bass; Freddy Colon, drums, timbales; David Antonetti, congas; and Bob Stata, acoustic bass.

This live recording features the Mambo Kings at the Hochstein Performance Hall in Rochester in June 2005. You've got to hand it to these musicians for not cluttering up their new album with what might be mediocre originals in choosing the music for this performance. The compositions, whether originating from Latin, rock or jazz sources, do the job and keep the concert tuneful and lively. Clare Fischer's "Una Mañana" (also known as "Morning") is as good a place to begin as any, while the Tizol/Ellington classic "Caravan" becomes a pulsing exercise in Latin percussion per Colon and Antonetti. More traditional Latin compositions like "El Cumbanchero" and "Tres Lindas Cubanas," featuring a fine salsa flute solo from Viavattine, are provided, as is the Lennon-McCartney piece "Daytripper." They all supply the means to generate the excitement that dancers (Latin or otherwise) require.

One of the surprises of this album is the inclusion of Brubeck's "Blue Rondo A La Turk." We've all heard multiple jazz versions of this 1959 classic, but this take is clearly the closest interpretation to the original Brubeck Quartet offering on Time Out. Richard Delaney's pianistic dynamics lead the way through the three-minute melody segment with Viavattine's soprano sax. The percussion picks up the melody line, and Delaney and Viavattine's salsa energy transforms this into a percolating Latin line. Michel Camilo's "Caribe" provides a closing energy source for all. As an encore for listeners, the Rafael Lopez piece "La Sitiera" begins as a piano-driven bolero before John Viavattine's soprano sax solo, which ranges from lilting to intense.

Track Listing: Introduction; Una Manana; Caravan; Tres Lindas Cubanas; El Cumbanchero; Day Tripper; La Sitiera; Blue Rondo A La Turk; Caribe; La Sitera.

Personnel: Richard Delaney: piano; John Viaviattine, Jr.: electric bass, tenor and soprano saxophones, flute; Freddy Colon: drums, timbales; David Antonetti: congas; Bob Stata: acoustic bass (10).

Record Label: Mambokingdom

Style: Latin/World


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