The Nuyorican Café, located in an alleyway in Old San Juan, is a smoky small venue with a centrally located generous bar and just the perfect ambiance for a gig with Luis MarÃ-n. It isn't the most acoustically correct place; yet, the live sound of this recording is largely unaffected. In this disk, MarÃ-n, who alongside pianists such as Eric Figueroa and José Lugo...as well as trombonist William Cepeda...is one of the most interesting and advanced musicians based in Puerto Rico, offers a glimpse of the local jazz scene. Although there are only five performances included in the recording, the shortest clocks at almost nine minutes and the longest 25 minutes plus.
Victor Young has long been a darling composer for jazzbos. MarÃ-n's version of "Beautiful Love is quite energetic nonetheless. MarÃ-n exploited the melodic line quite effectively turning it into a driving and beautiful jazz-guaguancó. The ensemble playing is rather comfortable with its pulse and decipherable musical territory. Although MarÃ-n's right hand filigrees, runs and harmonic percussive beatings on the keyboard are notable, close attention to his left-handed performances will reveal a few delectable surprises. As in the rest of the gig, bassist Pedro Pérez shows remarkable good taste, discipline, festive restraint, and fine intonation. He's unobtrusively strong and listening to him within an instrumental context is always a welcome experience. The percussionists might very well have their best moment herein too.
As in any live recording, however, there are "those moments and this disk isn't free of them. PaolÃ- MejÃ-as feels in the way in "La montaña, which is truly a trio performance with a conga intrusion as MejÃ-as was unexploited therein. "Campanitas de cristal meanders in a couple of places and its evident MarÃ-n slowed the horses down at one point. The medley "Qué te pedÃ-/El cumbanchero evidences some limitations within a trio format, as the drummer didn't seem able to bring it to next level. MarÃ-n also tends...here and there...to run into his own rapid-fire virtuosity.
MarÃ-n, however, is a jazz volcano waiting to transcend the Hispanic musical vocabulary. He would do rather well freed from Latin percussion and within a trio format with a jazz-Latin drummer rather than a Latin-jazz one. Live at the Nuyorican Café 2 Luis MarÃ-n, however, features a fine ensemble, performing and documenting a type of Puerto Rican jazz presentation that hardly ever gets to shine through as it does here. Their rendition of both "Campanitas de Cristal and Joan Manuel Serrat's "Señora ...popularized in Salsa by Richie Ray and Bobby Cruz...will definitely bring an acknowledging smiles and cheers from listeners.
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