By allowing their bands to jam together for this project, Bobby Matos and John Santos have created a loose-knit, easy to like affair. Both percussionist bandleaders emphasize Afro-Latin jazz in their respective ensembles. Beside a colorful lineup of tuned drums and cowbells of different sizes, their combined orchestra has room for traditional Afro-Cuban vocals and fiery horn solos. Two dramatic readings make an emotional impression. One appears as a reverent homage to bassist Israel "Cachao" Lopez, 82, who is widely regarded as the creator of mambo music. The other forges ahead in a contemporary mood with thoughts on how this music affects us. Passionate and piercing, the mambo has long given us visual and aural scenery for romance. Horn solos offer refreshing samples of the spontaneity; and everyone in the combined band gets involved. Of particular note are the spots provided by John Calloway on piano and flute, Michael Turre on baritone sax, Wayne Wallace on trombone, Eliseo Borrero on bass, Victor Cegarra on piano and both Ron Stallings & Melecio Magadaluyo on saxophones. Both leaders share their enthusiasm through various percussion instruments. Santos and Matos reach a high point on "Oye Me Querida," on bongos and timbales, respectively, when they interact with conguero Robertito Melendez with spirits soaring. Both bandleaders provide effective examples of the required rhythms, while leading their combined orchestra through a pleasurable session of mambo jazz.
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