Hilton Ruiz Ensemble

Something Grand

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In his first album for a major label, Ruiz fields the lineup of a classic salsa octet yet lets them cook on several stylistic burners in a solid, if not completely explosive Latin jazz session. From the strict Latin fire of "Home Cookin'" to the Coltrane-ish "Sunrise Over Madarao," Ruiz brandishes spectacular chops heavily overshadowed by the ubiquitous influence of McCoy Tyner while maintaining a Latin rhythmic context. He often has great help on the front line: trumpeter Lew Soloff at his commanding best, even working a bit outside on plunger mute; Steve Turre, quirky and unpredictable on valve trombone and his mellow trademark conch shells; Sam Rivers openly emulating Coltrane on soprano sax at times. Russell Blake is highly mobile on electric bass, yet Ignacio Berroa, Daniel Ponce, and Charlie Santiago aren't as ideally swinging a percussion section as possible, and that leads to a certain flatness in a few spots. Yet they do keep the tension going consistently on a track as lengthy as "Infinity," which at 16-minutes-plus nearly defines its title.

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