Internationally renowned bandleader, conguero and percussionist, Ray Baretto and his ensemble, New World Spirit, continue their tradition of jazz excellence on Contact! Released in 1997 on Blue Note/EMI, their fifth CD is a conscious break from the dance-oriented Ray Barretto Orchestra many of his fans may remember, in that Contact! explores the deeply personal musical relationships throughout the phases of Baretto's career. Songs are masterfully syncretized and utilizing Baretto's unique musical vocabulary, including call-and-response, cubop rhythms and 4/4 swing -- the ten-track CD ignites a sensual fire on "Dance of Denial," a melodic, midtempo piece that showcases brilliant solos by Michael Philip Mossman on trumpet, Adam Kolker on saxophone and John Di Martino on piano. The incomparable Baretto adds finality to the piece with a polyrhythmic statement that represents the conguero at his finest. As deep and enjoyable as each piece is, what gives the CD its impact is the vehement delivery by Baretto which portrays the profound impressions left by his musical mentors and his revolutionary development as a result of their influence. He introduces a facet of this influence on "La Bendicion" and "Liberated Spirit," both original compositions by Baretto that focus the listener on the dynamic forces surrounding his imagination. Jazz definitely receives the respect it deserves at the hands of this jazz linguist. Let there be no doubt that Ray Baretto is a master that fully comprehends his craft and is strongly deserving of the critical and popular acclaim he is receiving throughout the world.
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AllMusic Review by Paula Edelstein