Bacalao Con Pan

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Capturing a period between 1974 and 1985, in what was arguably Irakere's heyday, after they had developed a strong stylistic voice, and before the direction of jazz fusion changed significantly in the '90s, Bacalao con Pan, a collection from the Escondida label, is an excellent showcase for some of Irakere's B-sides and lesser-known gems, with a few dance hits thrown in for good measure. Seldom will one find a disc with such diverse selections as the intelligent and rare guitar composition "Romance" alongside name-brand Irakere hits like "Aguanile Bonko." Escondida did a fantastic job of organizing a pleasing and original playlist. Even Irakere enthusiasts might find themselves saying, "I've never heard that before." It's important to note that it would be hard to make these Cuban legends sound bad, but the flow on Bacalao con Pan is particularly excellent. There is an even balance between their famous raw, live presence and more polished-sounding studio material. Similarly, there is an almost even split between big-production, crowd-pleasing vocal numbers and the compositionally sophisticated tunes that won the heart of the jazz world. This record would be an excellent introduction to Irakere in their prime.

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