Venezuelan percussionist Orlando Poleo may not quite be a household name in the States. Perhaps he should be. His 2002 release, Lo Bueno de la Vida, manages to cover an amazing array of stylistic territory, and all of it with native ease. Venezuela produces some truly amazing musical talent, but even among them Poleo is a standout, a feather in Caracas' cap. The salsa on the record swings with gutsy confidence. The Latin jazz selections, often favoring Afro-Venezuelan rhythms, are intelligent and intricate. Poleo even includes a few percussion compositions that are so expertly performed as to take on a hypnotic quality. If a musician's quality is reflected by those around him, then Poleo must pack some true star power. The record's guest list is definitely VIP, with appearances from artists like Dave Valentin and Orlando "Maraca" Valle, and a virtual who's who list of percussionists, including up-and-comer Paoli Mejias, Giovanni Hidalgo, Miguel "Anga" Diaz, and Richie Flores, to name a few. Poleo now makes his professional home in France, which challenges the perception that clave only truly lives in the Americas. Sony International struck gold with Orlando Poleo. Those who choose to add Lo Bueno de la Vida to their collections can share in that fortune.
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AllMusic Review by Evan C. Gutierrez