Various Artists

Latin Beat Magazine: Real Latin Jazz: Percussion, Piano & Strings

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When The Right Stuff and Latin Beat Magazine joined forces for two Real Latin Jazz compilations in 2000, they didn't dig deep into Latin jazz's history. A truly historic and comprehensive approach would have meant including (or trying to include, depending on licensing restrictions) everyone from Dizzy Gillespie and Machito to Cal Tjader, Mongo Santamaria, and Pucho & His Latin Soul Brothers. But instead of going the historic route, they chose to focus on more recent Latin jazz recordings. So this CD doesn't include anything from the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, or 1970s. Spanning 1992-1999, the disc spotlights artists who range from Poncho Sanchez, Ray Barretto, and Bobby Matos to Eddie Palmieri and Chucho Valdés. Many of the selections are hard bop or post-bop with Afro-Cuban rhythms, including Palmieri's "Slow Visor," Sanchez' interpretation of Clare Fischer's "Morning" (which features singer Dianne Reeves), and Valdés' "Con Poco Coco." But funk and rock elements find their way into Angel Olmos' "Lucrecia the Cat," which demonstrates that Latin jazz can be relevant to fusion. And Chano Dominguez' "Solo Quiero Caminar" combines jazz with Spanish nuevo flamenco. (The term "Latin jazz" usually refers to a blend of jazz and Afro-Cuban rhythms, but because flamenco is Latin music, "Solo Quiero Caminar" is technically Latin jazz. And, for that matter, bossa nova is technically Latin jazz because Brazil is part of Latin America.) Regrettably, The Right Stuff fails to provide recording dates and doesn't list all of the personnel, which is the sort of thing that infuriates collectors. Nonetheless, this is an enjoyable collection -- far from definitive, but certainly enjoyable.

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