Paquito D'Rivera heads out in two directions on Explosion, continuing his invigorating explorations of Latin American music and trying his hand at arranging for a small string section. On three tracks, Paquito makes his strings seem more lush than their numbers indicate, while never overloading the texture with schmaltz; a good effort all around. The big attractions of this album, though, are the Latin workouts, at once more stimulating and swinging than before, with marvelous trombone from Claudio Roditi and impressive piano from Michel Camilo. In a homage to his island roots, Paquito plays marvelously on a jiggling rendition of Mario Bauza's "Mambo Inn," and all the alto registers perfectly integrated from top to bottom. Among the other high points, Camilo's "Just Kidding" is a humorous metamorphosis of Dizzy Gillespie's "Salt Peanuts," and Roditi's "The Monster and the Flower" has a great Brazilian guitar groove.
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