Quick and to the Point
: Puente’s aesthetic + the Boss’ inspiration + Joe Quijano + New York Big Band
More than three decades ago, the ever-active rumor mill among musicians kept itself busy wondering about the fact that Frank Sinatra and Ernesto “Tito” Puente attempted to record together, but their respective schedules got in the way. The rest is unrealized history. Nat Chediak also alludes to this unfulfilled date in his Diccionario del Jazz Latino, lending it credence. Joe Quijano , however, has issued his take on what could’ve been aided by a big band sounding bunch of seasoned veterans from New York.
Tighter than a sacrificial virgin’s... Well, let’s just say that Salsa-Natra In Clave will not disappoint anyone looking for a swinging, fat-sounding New York band. Quijano assails hits from Ol’ Blue Eyes repertoire with his conjunto cachana-inflected, infectiously danceable barrioness. His aging vocal chops are what the character of the project demands. Quijano sings a man’s manly tasty Latinization of the melodic and romantic strength of songs such as “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” “Witchcraft” and “Fly Me to the Moon.” The bandleader, businessman, composer, and singer has just the right combo of cojones and elegance to keep up with the potent players as well as the excellent big band arrangements from long-time Puente collaborator Ray Santos, as well as the ones from Paquito Pastor and P. Moss.
Performing with vim and vigor, flutist Dave Valentín and trumpeter David “Piro” Rodriguez provide the solo highlights – the latter burning particularly well in “Witchcraft” and “All Of Me.” The outfit, however, comprises a dream band of sorts, with figures such as bongocero Manny Oquendo (going into six decades of bridging past and present in Latin dance music), trombonist Reynaldo Jorge, bassist Andy González (perhaps the current preeminent Latin jazz bassist), pianists Paquito Pastor and Edy Martínez (one of Colombia’s best known musicians of his kind), and former Puente saxophonist Mario Rivera, among others.
The album is sung in English and the second half includes a bolero as ode to Sinatra, an English version of “El Muerto Se Fue de Rumba,” a cut inspired by J-Lo expressed through a medley of three different tunes and Barry Manilow’s “Copacabana,” where Quijano used to be a busboy and witnessed Sinatra loose his voice on stage. Don’t laugh: these songs will most likely get you to shake your booty in several danceable grooves.
Visit Oasis Salsero on the web, Joe Quijano at 787.726-4621 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Personnel: Ray Santos: Conductor & Arranger. Dave Valent