Various Artists

Latin Cool! [Fania]

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More than just a few Latin jazz lovers would overlook the Fania label, not because it lacked instrumental talent -- it was one of the most gifted assemblies of musicians of the '70s -- but because Fania artists focused on the groove and the Latin side of the equation more than the jazz side. Nevertheless, Latin Cool! is an excellent crossover compilation, including many displays of the best moments of the Fania label (several of them in a jazz context). On the first half, Tito Puente kicks off the program with the fiery "Mambo Diablo," while Ray Barretto's "Acid" has to stand as the definitive latter-day Latin groove (no matter its jazz crossover ability). The second half is full of intriguing performances also, including Roberto Roena's performance of the standard "Take Five," a latter-day Machito reading of Dizzy Gillespie's "Tin Tin Deo," or "Bamboleate," one example of the wonderful two-album collaboration between Cal Tjader and Eddie Palmieri.

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