It's not every independent New York-based Latin jazz outfit that can get famous guys like saxophonist Paquito D'Rivera and flutist Antonio Hart to jam with them, so it makes sense to begin discussion of this very appealing, brilliantly played project with their contributions. D'Rivera's honking contributions to the rolling, percussive "Voyager" are not specifically Latin in nature, but offer a powerful straight-ahead melody in conjunction with Hart's soulful flute. Testament to the strength of the six-piece outfit is the fact that the real stars on that track are pianist Ray Naccari and bassist Kevin Jacoby, who keeps the tune moving. D'Rivera also appears on the tribal jam "Ash'e," blowing funky, then honking heavily over Duke Lee's irrepressible jungle percussion. Slide Hampton dresses up the romantic "Black Orchid" with a subtle trombone solo halfway through, but again the native Iguazuans like Naccari and vibist David Clive carry the load; a later improvisational duet section between Hampton and Naccari is amazing. There are also many cuts without any all-star help, most notably the brassy, Santana-like blues rocker "Cold Shot" featuring vocalist Rick Howard; it's like a Latin Tower of Power tune. There's a little too much tendency for these instrumentalists to put their bravura in the service of mediocre vocals -- meaning that "It Ain't Nothing But a Thing" features a powerful instrumental track but a throwaway bluesy vocal line. Ditto "The Girl Who Loved to Dance" which features a high and low vocal over a colorful flamenco harmony. Whatever flaws this disc has are easily solved if Iguazu realizes its amazing strengths lie in instrumental music and not in token vocals which aren't strong enough to gain airplay anyway. Cool, exotic cover art is also a plus.
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AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran