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The alliance of Latin music and American jazz ripened on these shores more than seventy years ago, nourished by pioneers such as Mario Bauza, Chano Pozo, Dizzy Gillespie, Machito, Tito Puente and others. It has been carried forward and enhanced since then by a succession of remarkable innovators including in recent years the Cuban-born drummer Dafnis Prieto who has chosen on his seventh recording as leader to honor a number of his forebears and musical heroes in a big-band format.
To help assure its success, Prieto assembled a blue-ribbon corps of New York-based musicians to dispatch nine of his tasteful compositions and arrangements. As one would expect, rhythm has the upper hand throughout, amplified by Prieto and ace percussionist Roberto Quintero . Prieto also makes good use of a trio of esteemed guest artists: altos Henry Threadgill (adapting better than one might envision on "Back to the Sunset"), Steve Coleman (the earnest "Song for Chico") and trumpeter Brian Lynch ("Uno Vez Mas," whose opening passage calls to mind Gillespie's "Manteca"). As everyone in the ensemble is a well-endowed soloist in his own right, there are no letdowns in that quarter.
As an homage to Latin / American jazz, this is exemplary. More than that, it is an album whose rhythmic intensity, harmonic discernment, intuitive brilliance and impressive group dynamic should enhearten jazz lovers of every persuasion. Well done, Dafnis.
Una Vez; The Sooner the Better; Out of the Bone; Back to the Sunset; Danzonish Potpourri; Song for
Chico; Prelude Para Rosa; Two for One; The Triumphant Journey.
Mike Rodríguez: Trumpet, Flugelhorn; Nathan Eklund: Trumpet, Flugelhorn; Alex Sipiagin: Trumpet,
Flugelhorn; Josh Deutsch: Trumpet, Flugelhorn; Román Filiú: Alto Sax, Soprano Sax, Flute, Clarinet;
Michael Thomas: Alto Sax, Soprano Sax, Flute, Piccolo; Peter Apfelbaum: Tenor Sax, Soprano Sax,
Melodica; Joel Frahm: Tenor Sax, Soprano Sax; Chris Cheek: Bari Sax; Tim Albright: Trombone; Alan
Ferber: Trombone; Jacob Garchik: Trombone; Jeff Nelson: Bass Trombone; Manuel Valera: Piano;
Ricky Rodríguez: Acoustic & Electric Bass; Roberto Quintero: Congas, Bongos, Percussion; Dafnis
Prieto: Drums & Music Director; Brian Lynch: Trumpet (Track 1); Henry Threadgill: Alto Sax (Track
4); Steve Coleman: Alto Sax (Track 6).