Jere Laukkanen

Finnish Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra

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There is certainly no way of knowing, without looking at the personnel listing of Finnish Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra, that Jere Laukkanen's 21-piece orchestra is from Helsinki, Finland. His Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra has an appealing sound and Laukkanen's arrangements make "Manteca" and Jaco Pastorius' "Teen Town" sound fresh and a little different than expected. "Obatala," "Chango," and "Ochun" are the three sections of a suite called "Three Prayers," with each part based on ancient sacred chants from Cuba. Though none of the soloists are well known outside of Finland, they are all quite talented and understand the music well. This spirited set, which sounds more contemporary than most American Latin jazz groups (and does not exclusively play Afro-Cuban jazz), is worth exploring.

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