Spanish Harlem Orchestra

Across 110th Street

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The Spanish Harlem Orchestra is back and they're even tighter and more swinging than before. They've added vocalists Willie Torres and Marcos Bermudez to replace Hermán Olivera and Frankie Vázquez, while keeping the fine vocalist Ray de la Paz in the band. Torres sings lead on cover versions of "Dime Si Llegue a Tiempo" and "Maestro de Rumberos," while Bermudez sings lead on "Tu Tun Sueña el Tambo," which features outstanding trombone playing by Jimmy Bosch, and "La Hija de Lola," a Raúl Marrero song previously recorded by Charlie Palmieri. Another change is the addition of Rubén Blades as guest vocalist on four tracks: "Un Gran Dia en el Barrio" (a band original written by Ray de la Paz),"Bailadores" (a "Héctor Rivera" song previously recorded by the Joe Cuba Sextet),"Cuando Te Vea" (a Tito Puente song arranged by Gil Lopes, who also arranged the group's rendition of the bolero "Esperame en el Cielo"), and "Tu Te lo Pierdes" (written by Blades himself). The last song is one of the best here, but it doesn't quite fit with the overall feel of the album, which is probably why it's a bonus track. The entire band deserves praise for its musicianship, including pianist Oscar Hernandez and the remarkable horn section. Across 110th Street doesn't break any new ground musically, as reflected in the high percentage of cover versions, but it's recommended if you want to hear some energetic, danceable music.

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