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Manuel Valera Sr.: Recuerdos

Ernest Barteldes By

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Recuerdos might translate as "Remembrances," but save for maybe a track or two, this album is clearly not about nostalgia—it is a contemporary Latin jazz album filled with inspired moments—among these "Solitude," a tune in which veteran saxophonist Manuel Valeras, Sr. and his son (pianist Manuel Valera) share a close duet. "Si La Comprienderas" opens the disc with an up-tempo groove, and "Si Te Contara" has a very modern feel thanks to the solid backing from the rhythm section of bassist Hans Glawischnig drummer Ludwig Afonso and percussionist Mauricio Herrera. The same can be said of "Alma Con Alma," a track that has intriguing polyrhythms the bandleader takes advantage of in his approach. The disc only waxes nostalgic on "Solamente Una Vez," a classic composition by Agustín Lara also known (thanks to its inclusion on the 1943 Walt Disney movie "Los Tres Caballeros") in English as "You Belong to My Heart." Here it is presented mid-tempo, with great emphasis on drums and percussion.

Valera Sr.'s playing is straightforward and confident, turning the spotlight to the younger Valera for a beautiful solo. "Tres Palabras" is another highlight—the subtle arrangement serves the bandleader well as he does the song great justice with his charismatic playing style. Valera Sr. has often been a sideman to legends like Arturo Sandoval and Paquito D'Rivera (to name a few), but he also shines on this turn as a bandleader. His backing group is solid and has great synchronicity together (something better noticed in the more downtempo numbers). The results are a resounding success.

Track Listing: Si Me Comprendieras; La Rosa Roja; Alma Con Alma; La Tarde; Longina; Tres Palbras; Si Te Contara; Solamente Una Vez; Cancion De Un Festival; Solitude.

Personnel: Manuel Valera Sr.: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone; Manuel Valera: piano; Hans Glawischnig: bass; Ludwig Afonso: drums; Mauricio Herrera: percussion.

Title: Recuerdos | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Mavo Records

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