Exciting and Grand is Rene Grand's leanest and meanest LP, whittling his Combo New York to its bare essentials to forge a raw, live-wire update of classic Latin jazz and soul sensibilities. Though plainly a product of post-boogaloo N.Y.C., the music here looks back at Latin music's past even as it pushes into the future. The sheer simplicity of Grand's approach deserves mention, not just because it eliminates so many superfluous details but also because it creates the space to explore new ideas and expressions. Vocalist Frankie Rodriguez is in fine form, but the emphasis here is squarely on the instrumentalists -- the grooves are tight, and the rhythms are relentless.
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