Manny Oquendo


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Although Ahora was recorded in 1993, Milestone/Fantasy didn't release this excellent CD until 1999. While Manny Oquendo & Libre's other '90s releases, Mejor que Nunca and On the Move, contain both salsa and Latin jazz, Ahora offers no instrumentals and no outright Latin jazz. However, it does unite Libre with some guest jazz musicians (including trombonist Steve Turre and vibist Joe Locke) and isn't without jazz elements. For this album, Oquendo wrote three songs: "Concierto de Oquendo" (an exuberant, 11-minute descarga or Latin jam), the exuberant "El Son" and the anti-drug commentary, "Drogas Fatal." Equally strong are the songs that Oquendo didn't write, which include "Asia Minor" (a tribute to the great Machito/Mario Bauza team) and Pedro Flores' gorgeous bolero, "Sabor a Mi." A bilingual gem, "Sabor a Mi" finds Libre pianist, Willie Rodriguez, handling the English lyrics while Libre's main singer, Herman Olivera provides the Spanish part. Those who have enjoyed other Oquendo projects will also find Ahora to be quite rewarding.

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