Ray Barretto

La Cuna

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Producer Creed Taylor has inspired everything from praise to anger among jazz fans. His work has been brilliant at times, detrimental at others (his worst flaw being a tendency to overproduce). Taylor plays a mostly positive role on La Cuna, a jazz-oriented effort uniting Ray Barretto with such first-class talent as Tito Puente (timbales) and the late Joe Farrell (tenor & soprano sax, flute). As slick as things get at times on La Cuna, Taylor wisely gives the players room to blow on everything from the haunting "Doloroso" and the driving "Cocinando" (a piece by Carlos Franzetti that shouldn't be confused with Barretto's major salsa/cha-cha hit) to a somewhat Gato Barbieri-ish take on Mussorgsky's "The Old Castle." Barretto successfully moves into soul territory on Stevie Wonder's "Pastime Paradise" (which rapper Coolio recast as his hit "Gangsta's Paradise" in 1994). Barretto may hate the term "Latin jazz," but make no mistake: La Cuna is one of his most memorable contributions to that genre.

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