Ricky Gonzalez

Oasis

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    5
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For his debut record, New York pianist/bandleader Ricky Gonzalez put together a who's who list of musicians, including Dave Valentin, José "El Canario" Alberto, Orestes Vilato, and the beyond famous Ray Barretto. Even the supporting musicians are of top-drawer "first-call" status, like Jimmy Sabater, Luis Quintero, Marc Quiñones, Johnny Pacheco, and more. A consummate musician himself, Gonzalez has backed industry greats like Ray Barretto, Tito Nieves, and "El Canario" for years before. The arrangements and selections on the disc are unfortunately not nearly as all-star as the cast. The majority of the record feels like salsa as usual. The performances are consistently fantastic, but one might think that with players as proficient as those that Gonzalez assembled, he might try some things that a lesser band could not handle. Unfortunately, he stuck to standard-issue club-style salsa. Ricky Gonzalez's Oasis brings to mind an age-old adage that is applicable to many different situations (when slightly modified): "It's not the band that counts, it's how you use it."

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