The term "Latin jazz" has usually been used to describe a fusion of jazz and Afro-Cuban music, which includes son, cha-cha, mambo, guaguanc, and many other rhythms that people have been calling "salsa" since the early '70s. But not all great Latin music has an Afro-Cuban orientation; the music of Latin America also includes everything from Venezuelan joropo to Mexican mariachi to Argentinean tango. So if a musician blends jazz with Columbian cumbia -- which is what reedman Greg Ribot does on The International Conspiracy -- you could argue that technically, he/she is playing Latin jazz. However, no one would mistake this CD for a Poncho Sanchez, Dizzy Gillespie, or Cal Tjader recording. While those improvisers are famous for combining jazz with Afro-Cuban rhythms, The International Conspiracy favors a jazz/South American hybrid. Cumbia is the album's most prominent Latin rhythm, and Cumbia del Norte is the name of the band that Ribot (a native of Newark, NJ) leads on this release. But The International Conspiracy also incorporates elements of Peruvian, Chilean, and Bolivian music. Ribot is no purist; The International Conspiracy isn't straight-ahead jazz any more than it is pure cumbia. Rather, the New Jersey native uses a variety of influences to create instrumental music that is challenging yet high accessible. This CD is recommended to anyone who is seeking something fresh from either jazz or Latin music.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson