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Arturo Sandoval. Chick Corea. Poncho Sanchez. Pete Escovedo. Dave Valentin. Need I say more? If so, just read through more of the personnel below. Sometimes with all-star gatherings, the whole is not as great as the sum of its parts, but happily this is not the case here. This has to be one of the most explosive and musically satisfying Latin jam sessions I've ever heard. I especially recommend it as a good intro to this broad musical genre for those who are new to it and seeking to expand their horizons. Mark Holston's excellent and thorough liner notes add additional value.
Virtually every song on the program is a highlight. The opener, Dizzy Gillespie and Chano Pozo's "Soul Sauce" (also popularized by vibraphonist Cal Tjader), features Corea on Rhodes, Samuels on vibes, and Valentin on flute. Dizzy's famous "A Night in Tunisia" finds Cuban Arturo Sandoval and Brazilian Claudio Roditi, Latin jazz's two foremost trumpeters, carrying Dizzy's torch forward with excellent solos. A medley of two famous Tito Puente songs ("Ran Kan Kan" and "Oye Como Va") are combined into "Medley Para Tito," and flautist Valentin, trumpeter/arranger Ray Vega, and timbalero Escovedo excel. Corea is featured widely throughout the program on Fender Rhodes, and the members of his current band Origin are featured on Corea's composition "Wigwam." The rich, full-voiced vocal of Oscar D'Leon leads "Van Morena," in which flautist Nestor Torres (a talent deserving of much wider recognition) and Steve Turre on conch shells also shine. Mongo Santamaria's "Besame Mama" and Arturo Sandoval's "A Mis Abuelos" provide more intoxicating rhythms and solo spots for the principals. The gig reaches it's climax with the closer, a rollicking, big band version of the theme from "I Love Lucy," featuring a parade of soloists: Robert Rodriguez (piano), Ed Calle (tenor sax), Claudio Roditi (trumpet), Steve Turre (trombone), Dave Samuels (vibes), Dave Valentin (flute), Chick Corea (Fender Rhodes), Arturo Sandoval (trumpet), Pete Escovedo (timbales), Horatio Hernandez (drums), Poncho Sanchez (congas). Whew!
This whole set just smokes. Don't miss it. (Concord Picante CCD-4899)
Track Listing: Club Paradiso; Caribbean Breeze; Cruisin' Down Ocean Drive; Be Cool; Rhythm of Your Life; Guachi Guaro (Soul Sauce); A Night in Tunisia; Medley Para Tito ("Ran Kan Kan" and "Oye Como Va"); Ican; Wigwam; Ven Morena; Poncho con su Tambor; Besame Mama; A Mis Abuelos; Theme from "I Love Lucy". (71:17)
Personnel: Arturo Sandoval, Claudio Roditi, Ray Vega, Jason Carter, Steve Reid - trumpet; Chick Corea - Fender Rhodes; Hilton Ruiz, Robert Rodriguez - piano; Leo Quintero - guitar; Avishai Cohen, Nicky Orta, Eddie Resto - bass; Dave Samuels - vibes; Dave Valentin, Nestor Torres - flute; Steve Turre, Steve Davis, Dana Teboe, Joe Barati - trombone; Poncho Sanchez - congas; Pete Escovedo - timbales; Ed Calle, Tim Garland - tenor saxophone; Steve Wilson, Billy Ross - alto saxophone; Mike Brignola - baritone saxophone; Oscan D'Leon - vocals; Horacio Hernandez - drums and percussion; Steve Turre - conch shells; Samuel Torres, Richard Bravo - percussion.