When Ivan Lins visited Cuba for the first time in February 1996, one of the Brazilian singer's activities was a concert at la Casa de la Musica (the House of Music) in Havana. That concert resulted in Live in Cuba, an excellent CD that finds him accompanied by Cuban musicians. Lins could have traveled to Cuba with a band of Brazilian players, but instead, he's backed by Cuban jazz pianist Chucho Valdés and members of Irakere -- the Cuban jazz/salsa outfit that saxman Paquito D'Rivera and trumpeter Arturo Sandoval once belonged to. (By the time this concert was recorded in 1996, D'Rivera and Sandoval had long since left Cuba and become U.S. citizens.) Thankfully, Lins and the Cuban players prove to be quite compatible during a set that consists of mostly Lins' songs. The Cubans don't necessarily play Lins' hits exactly like a Brazilian band would have played them, and that's actually a good thing because it keeps the concert interesting. The members of Irakere don't divorce themselves from their Cuban heritage on familiar Lins pieces like "Dinorah, Dinorah," "Illuminados," "Vitoriosa," and "Ai, Ai, Ai, Ai, Ai" -- they bring their own ideas to their table, and the resulting Brazilian/Cuban mix proves to be quite rewarding. Live in Cuba indicates that Lins should record in Cuba more often.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson