Where does one go from the top? Ray Barretto through his years collaborating with the most important names in jazz and giving some of salsa's most notable musicians their start has become the most notable conguero around. No one has done so much for the role of the instrument, either by way of notoriety or for its musical role. Where does one go from being the most notable living conguero? In Barretto's case, the answer is that, like a true master, you pay tribute to the masters who went before you. In his 2003 Homage to Art (Blakey & the Jazz Messengers) Barretto looks back on some of his favorite compositions from his days as a fellow percussionist/bandleader. It is becoming a well-worn path to cover material from our jazz forefathers thanks to artists like Conrad Herwig, Brian Lynch and others, who've done a fine job reworking classic material to swing en clave, but the opportunity to hear it done by one of Latin jazz's genuine pioneers is rare and precious. With a lineup of New York's cream of the crop, including Luis Perdomo, Miguel Zenón, Hans Glawischnig and the slightly lesser known Vince Cherico and John Baily, Barretto's tribute is far from a museum piece. The concept is established and Barretto is a king, but the music is still plenty fresh and daring. When a master pays homage to a master, it's something worth hearing.
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AllMusic Review by Evan C. Gutierrez