Without looking further than the title, you would be excused for believing that this album of tunes by Latin American composers would cruise in an upbeat party mode. And indeed, the old Perez Prado rouser "Mambo No. 5" -- which was given a revival on the charts by contemporary artists -- is given a fun, playful, remarkably faithful rendition by the peripatetic, stylistically-roaming acoustic guitarist Carlos Barbosa-Lima and a lively rhythm section headed by bassist Eddie Gomez. However, you would be wrong, for the vast bulk of the CD is taken up by introspective, impeccably played Barbosa-Lima solo guitar renditions of Latin tunes, with familiar names like Ernesto Lecuona and Ary Barroso among the composer credits. Barbosa-Lima gives the Cuban folk tune "Guantanamera" a simple, graceful rundown, while Barroso's "Aquarela do Brasil" gets a complex, involved, thoroughly unhackneyed treatment with a natural feel for the insistent samba groove when it appears. The full band (with Gomez, pianist Oscar Hernandez, and drummer Dafnis Prieto) only plays on three of the 20 tracks, the others being a travel poster-faithful "Tico Tico" and a nice version of Barroso's "Bahia," with conguero Pepe Torres adding some energy to "El Cumbancherito," "Perfidia," and "Cachita."
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AllMusic Review by Richard S. Ginell