Although Velas' main focus has been Brazilian music, the label has also put out some noteworthy Afro-Cuban and Latin jazz releases. One of Velas' Latin jazz CDs is Roberto Carcassés' Invitation, which was recorded in Havana, Cuba in November 1999 and came out in the U.S. in 2000. This decent, if conventional, CD shows Carcassés to be a swinging hard bop pianist who uses Afro-Cuban rhythms extensively. Though the improviser provides a Cuban-minded, unusually uptempo interpretation of the Thelonious Monk standard "Monk's Mood," most of the material was written by Carcassés himself. Afro-Cuban jazz dominates the session, although Carcassés detours into vocal-oriented salsa on "De la Habana a Nueva York" (an ode to Latin jazz/salsa legend Mario Bauzá). The disc's most interesting track is "Velas Icadas," an Ivan Lins gem that features vocalist Liliam. This Brazilian song was written in Portuguese, but Rodolfo de Athayde (Invitation's musical director and arranger) gives the listener a very pleasant surprise by translating the lyrics into Spanish. Most of the album, however, is more conventional than that--conventional, but pleasing. While Invitation isn't a gem, it lets us know that Carcassés is someone to keep an eye on.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson