Sammy Figueroa

The Magician

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Percussionist Sammy Figueroa's second CD as a leader for Savant is a dynamic session, with a rotating cast of players in a sextet that often sounds like a much larger band. Drawing from both hard bop repertoire and originals contributed by his musicians, the leader's driving percussion powers the ensembles with a fire reminiscent of Mongo Santamaria, while he is also a fine conga soloist, especially in bassist Gabriel Vivas' explosive cooker "The Three Marias." Pianist Silvano Monasteiros contributed the elegant cha-cha "The Magician," which showcases trumpeter John Norris and the composer. Figueroa's scoring of the well-known Miles Davis/Victor Feldman piece "Seven Steps to Heaven" is full of spice in a blazing uptempo setting. Likewise, the arrangements of works by Cedar Walton and Horace Silver work equally well in this enjoyable Afro-Cuban recording. This CD was nominated in 2007 for a Grammy award as Best Latin Jazz Album.

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