The question mark at the end of the group's name above isn't a mistake. It's Paquito D'Rivera's way of signaling that listeners shouldn't expect to hear just a traditional jazz quintet on his consistently excellent and continually surprising Funk Tango. Instead, the Cuban-born multi-instrumentalist leads an ever-shifting international ensemble that adds and subtracts members based on the needs of the material, expanding, for example, to a septet with two extra percussionists for a spirited Latin bop take on Coltrane's "Giant Steps" or stripping down to a duo (D'Rivera on clarinet with the outstanding Israeli pianist Alon Yavnai) on the classically-inspired Chopin-goes-Cubano composition "Contradanza."
Regardless of the setting, or whether he's playing clarinet or alto sax, Brazilian samba or Peruvian festejos, the 59-year-old D'Rivera can be counted on to deliver dazzling and energetic performances that stretch the boundaries of Latin jazz. He shows his adventurous side on pianist Fernando Otero's rhythmically darting "Milonga 10"; his romantic side on Astor Piazzolla's tango classic "Revirado," featuring the wonderful Hector Del Curto on bandoneon; and his ability to flat-out blow on the fast-paced post-bop title tune.
Also worth noting is the indispensable contribution of Argentina's Diego Urcola, D'Rivera's longtime trumpeter, who makes an auspicious debut here on valve trombone.
Track Listing: Pere; What About That?; Revirado; Contradanza; Milonga 10; Last Waltz; Funk-Tango; Mariela's Dream; La Yumba/Caravan; Como Un Bolero; Giant Steps.
Personnel: Paquito D'Rivera: alto sax, clarinet; Diego Urcola: trumpet, valve trombone; Alon Yavnai: piano; Oscar Stagnaro: electric bass; Marc Walker: drums; Pernell Saturnino: percussion; Hector Del Curto: bandoneon; Pablo Stagnaro: cajon; Ed Simon: piano; Fernando Otero: piano.