If the point of a remix is to make something new out of something old, then Explorations: Classic Picante Regrooved surely succeeds. Here are archetypal Latin jazz sides by such giants as Tito Puente, Ray Barretto, Eddie Palmieri, Mongo Santamaria, and Cal Tjader put through the remix grinder by hot-button contemporary DJs, producers, and bands, including Thievery Corporation, Ozomatli, Dan the Automator, Los Amigos Invisibles, and Yerba Buena. In several instances, such as Thievery Corporation's remix of Barretto's "Work Song," only trace elements of the source recording are audible, yet the funky, bass-piloted dancefloor pulse that rolls over those elements casts the revision as an innovative, stand-alone entity that doesn't borrow so much as pay homage. Whether reconsidered as a chillout groove or a fiery, pounding assault, the re-creations -- some with new vocals added -- profess reverence for and make reference to the masters, but stop short of bowing down at their altars. If, however, the job of the remixer is to improve upon the original concept, then these studio technicians have sadly been defeated in their quest. Listening to Dan the Automator's re-think of Poncho Sanchez's "Watermelon Man" and Marlo C.'s remix of Charlie Byrd's "Wave" incorporating a newly recorded Brazilian rhythm section, one only longs to revisit the nearly perfect originals. Who needs a remix when the original was perfection personified?
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Jeff Tamarkin