Paquito D'Rivera / WDR Big Band

Big Band Time

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Paquito D'Rivera obviously loves big-band music, and it suits him very well, both as a soloist and a writer -- it gives him a chance to bring plenty of color and crisp rhythm to his Latin sound. That he has a very strong band with him certainly helps. Frank Chastenier on piano is a standout, especially on the slow "Song for Maura," which aches with tenderness, and where D'Rivera himself shines. It's definitely a pan-Latin disc, embracing not only D'Rivera's native Cuba but also some strong touches of Brazil on "Who's Smokin'?," in addition to nods back to history, with lots of strong bop and even some of the contrapuntal melodies of Bach popping their noses over the wall here and here, courtesy of some skillful and witty arrangements. D'Rivera is never subsumed by the band, but often solos above it, mellifluous and swinging, especially on "A Lo Tristano," but with the type of silky phrasing that's long been his hallmark. He knows his jazz history, and isn't afraid to be inspired by others -- such as Al DiMeola on "Danza Caracteristica." It's a testament to D'Rivera that this is so good -- and remains thoroughly enjoyable.

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