The term Latin jazz has usually referred to a blend of bop and Afro-Cuban salsa, but the rhythms of Cuba (son, mambo, cha-cha, guaguanco, among many others) aren't the only Latin rhythms that jazz artists have embraced. Over the years, jazz has been combined with everything from Spanish flamenco, Brazilian samba and Columbian cumbia to Puerto Rican plena, Dominican merengue and Argentinean tango. On El Venezolano, the rhythms of Gerardo Rosales' native Venezuela are a major source of inspiration for the jazz percussionist. But Rosales is eclectic, and this unpredictable CD finds him blending post-bop with not only Venezuelan joropo rhythms, but also, incorporating salsa, merengue and bossa nova. While most of the material is instrumental jazz, various singers are featured on selections that range from the exuberant "Pa' los Guaco Guarapo" (a salsa tune with Venezuelan influences) to the reflective "Poco a Poco." One might assume that El Venezolano was recorded in the U.S. or Latin America, but in fact, it was recorded in Amsterdam, Holland, where Rosales was based in the late 1990s. For those who are seeking something fresh-sounding from Latin jazz, El Venezolano is well worth exploring.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson