Irish-American pianist Arthur Hanlon certainly isn't the first non-Latino musician who was seriously interested in Latin music; Cal Tjader, Dizzy Gillespie, and Stan Getz are among the many jazz artists who were heavily influenced by Latin rhythms. Getz' name is synonymous with bossa nova, while Tjader and Gillespie were famous for their contributions to Afro-Cuban jazz. But it is a rarity when a non-Latino musician actually signs with a Latin-oriented label, and goes after the Latin market primarily, which is what Hanlon did when he signed with Fonovisa in the early 2000s. Many of Fonovisa's releases have been aimed at the regional Mexican market; 11 Numeros Unos, however, often has more of a tropical flavor than one would ordinarily expect from a Fonovisa disc. But it would be a mistake to think that Hanlon brings to a purist approach to salsa, merengue, cumbia, or any other tropical style. This lush, very dreamy CD easily falls into the Latin pop category, and that is true regardless of what Latin rhythm Hanlon is being influenced by. "Lush" and "dreamy" are definitely the operative words where 11 Numeros Unos is concerned. Often surrounding his piano with lavish arrangements and seductive female group vocals, Hanlon favors the sort of lushness that often characterized Sergio Mendes' various groups back in the '60s and '70s. That isn't to say that 11 Numeros Unos shares Mendes' Brazilian orientation; instead, this CD gets its inspiration from the Spanish-speaking world. But Hanlon, like Mendes, does bring a certain romantic extravagance to his work -- and while 11 Numeros Unos isn't overly challenging, it offers a tastefully pleasant dose of mood music.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson