This CD is wonderful! In addition to being an exquisite listening experience, it also serves as a textbook (textdisc?) for gaining an understanding and appreciation for the various styles of Latin music that have developed throughout the century. The format is ten songs, each selected from a different country, and each from a different decade (see track listing below). John Lannert of Billboard magazine provides an informative paragraph describing each selection in the liner notes.
D'Rivera's playing is sensitive and superb throughout. He divides his attention between the soprano sax (50%), alto sax (25%) and clarinet (25%). The well-chosen ensemble, made up of bandmates from the Caribbean Jazz Project, several guitarists, and the omnipresent Luis Conte on percussion, are tight and crisp throughout. Heads Up labelmate Roberto Perera graces "Ay Ay Ay" with his seductive Paraguanan harp. There's not a weak link in the entire program, but a few highlights include "Acercate Mas," which owes its familiarity to the fact that Nat King Cole recorded an English version called "Come Closer to Me," the Jobim chestnut "Corcovado," and the driving, rhythmically infectious Ruben Blades tune "Sin Tu Carino."
This is one of those rare CDs that serves well both as a studied listening experience, and as background music for dinner or a romantic evening. (Heads Up HUCD 3045)
Tracks: La Morocha (Argentina, 1905); Ay Ay Ay (Chile 1915); Tu Mariposa (Colombia, 1920); Vereda Tropical (Mexico, 1936); Acercate Mas (Cuba, 1940); Amor Sin Esperanza (Dominican Republic, 1957); Corcovado (Brazil, 1960); Sin Tu Carino (Puerto Rico/U.S.A., 1976); Amor Sin Medida (Venezuela, 1987); Corazon Partio (worldwide, 1998). (46:14)
Paquito D'Rivera (soprano and alto sax, clarinet); Dario Eskenazi (piano); Fareed Haque, Aquiles Baez, David Oquendo (guitar); Oscar Stagnaro (bass); Mark Walker (drums); Luis Conte (percussion); Roberto Perera (Paraguayan harp, track 2); orchestra arranged and conducted by Bob Belden.