How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Guitarist Juan Manuel follows up Liberation with a new collection of original compositions further delving into the Latin sensibilities in music.
Juan Manuel epitomizes smooth, Latin-tinged contemporary jazz. His debut, Liberation, established the classically-trained guitarist as a heavy hitter in the realm of Latin Jazz. It contained all original compositions that smacked of swing and sly invention. Manuel further promotes this inventive swing on Reunion 2000, a collection of original compositions performed by his long time associates and featuring the skilled pianism of Shelly Berg.
The music contained herein is like very refined wine. All tunes are carefully crafted and thoughtfully played by Mr. Manuel and company. Aside from Manuel's superb acoustic and electric guitar playing, the other standouts on the disc are Shelly Berg's earthy piano and Rankin Peters' elastic electric bass. The latter is best illustrated on the lithesome "Cartegena Sunrise" and "Sunset in Sevilla". The pleasant surprise of the disc is the very '70s-sounding "Reunion Express" that sounds so much like the Ohio Players, I had a major polyester jones. A bit of nostalgia well performed.
Reunion 2000 is a smartly produced Latin session that will readily appeal to any Latin Jazz enthusiast. It is well worth seeking out and stands as an excellent companion to Manuel's earlier Liberation disc. Reunion 2000 is a self-produced endeavor on the part of Juan Manuel, as was his previous Liberation. His discs are distributed through Artist Unlimited and can be purchased in most Barnes and Nobles and Borders locations as well as from the Artist Unlimited Web Site.
Track Listing: Remembering Friends; South Shore; Sunset In Sevilla; The Gift; Reunion Express; Each Sweet Beat Of Your Heart/Lindsay's Song; Easy Does It; Cartagena Sunrise; Childhood Dreams. (Total Time: 44:05).
Personnel: Juan Manuel: Guitars; Shelley Berg: Piano; Tom Cummings: Drums and Percussion; Rankin Peters, Keith Vivens: Electric Bass; Sal Gonzales: Trombone; Larry Slezak.