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Ray Barretto: Time Was - Time Is

Jim Santella By

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The Ray Barretto Sextet delivers. It turns a program of traditional songs and original pieces into a performance of modern jazz designed to inspire. The conguero, who knows about finding rich talent, has put together a stellar ensemble that performs with cohesion, precision, and passion.

It's been nearly fifty years since Barretto replaced Mongo Santamaria in Tito Puente's ensemble. During his varied career he's experienced jazz from every angle: from traditional Latin to funk, bebop, and straight-ahead. With Time Was: Time Is, he explores the modern mainstream from a Latin jazz perspective. Each piece carries emotional flavors while exploring pretty melodies and undergirding with rhythmic animation.

Trumpeter Joe Magnarelli, alto saxophonist Myron Walden, and pianist Robert Rodriguez provide lyrical charms that float naturally like butterflies over a flowery meadow. Together, they portray dramatic spirits, intense rhythmic romps, and soothing ballads. Saxophonist Walden pushes with a gritty tone, which trumpeter Magnarelli balances with pure velvet.

The title track, composed by Walden, features both opposing forces in these majestic, yet contrasting roles. The piece opens with wafting harmony from both horns over a sultry rhythm. The saxophonist then pursues a fiery solo journey that pushes with grit and defiance. Enter the trumpet with a fluid melody that cascades gently over hills of wild moss. Their adventures are followed by a stirring deliberation from drummer Vince Cherico, who reminds us that percussion keeps the spirit alive. Throughout the piece, piano and bass sound out a thrilling foundation while Barretto's congas pepper the affair with characteristic charm.

Elsewhere, the band provides an eclectic performance that stirs with passion at every turn. Walden and Magnarelli provide all-star thrills while Barretto and his band surround them with upbeat Latin jazz landscapes. This recommended performance by the Ray Barretto Sextet is sure to brighten your day.


Track Listing: Drume Negrita; Murmullo; Mags; Motherless Child; One for Ray; The View from Here; Time Was: Time Is; Palladium Nights; Syracuse; Caper for Chris.

Personnel: Ray Barretto: congas, timbales (8), drums (10); Joe Magnarelli: trumpet, flugelhorn; Myron Walden: alto saxophone; Robert Rodriguez: piano; Sean Conly: bass; Vince Cherico: drums; Bobby Sanabria: percussion.

Title: Time Was - Time Is | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: O+ Music


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