Joe Cuba Sextet

Hecho y Derecho (Doin' It Right)

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The bandleader responsible for branding the vibraphone sextet as the new orquesta latino is in rare form on his 1973 release, Hecho y Derecho (Doin' It Right). Thanks to his stylistic flexibility and compact outfit, Joe Cuba was able to outlast many of his contemporaries, and ride the mambo wave right into boogaloo, Latin jazz, and beyond, keeping him active from the late '50s to present. The spare sound produced by the scant six musicians offers a seductive transparency, allowing listeners to appreciate the intricacies and texture of Cuba's groove. Other outfits of the day featured more than twice as many, creating an impenetrable mambo wall that would often mask the beauty of their rhythms. Though most of the tunes present are classic Joe Cuba guajiras and sizzling mambos, there are glimpses of the early-'70s Latino crossover movement. The aggressive comparsa groove on "Give Us a Chance" is curiously overshadowed by hipster spoken word political commentary, which sounds downright bizarre to the modern ear. Thankfully, the English-language ballad "Baby You're Everything" gets more delicate treatment. The other eight tracks are timeless New York descarga, with skillful playing and engaging songwriting. Hecho y Derecho is definitely salsa done right.

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