Paquito D'Rivera

Celebration

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The "celebration" in question refers to Paquito becoming a U.S. citizen seven years after defecting from Cuba -- and without question, he lives it up here by lavishing string arrangements on the majority of the tracks. Again, Paquito chooses to roam freely around the Latin and jazz spectrums, yet there is an appealing, newfound elegance in these tracks, even when the going gets raucous. "Wapango" has a stark, neo-classical string chart by Paquito, and Roger Kellaway contributes the fascinating, dream-like arrangement on "Heart of the Kingdom." Both of these tracks, which feature superb Paquito clarinet work, are along the lines of what Eddie Daniels was recording around this time. Claudio Roditi is back on bebop trumpet and Makoto Ozone, Daniel Freiberg and the always unpredictable Kellaway alternate in the piano chair. Paquito also repaid Chick Corea for his "Paquito" track on Manhattan Burn with a jazz/funk piece of his own called "Chick." Columbia unfortunately put a damper on the celebration by dropping Paquito after this album was released, despite the fact that it is clearly one of the ex-Cuban musician's finest projects. Blame the accountants, not the music.

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