Humberto Ramírez

Paradise

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In this Puente-esque big-band Latino recording, trumpeter Humberto Ramírez leads a group of some of the most recognizable names in Latin jazz. With a rhythm section composed of percussionists Alex Acuña and Richie Flores teamed with famed pianist Papo Lucca and veteran bass player Rubén Rodríguez, the grooves are aggressive and tight. The interplay between Flores' congas and Lucca's signature montuno is at times dizzying. The horn arrangements, all penned by Ramírez, swirl and churn like a tropical storm, particularly on the bright, surging Puente tribute "To the King." There is some inconsistency in both the quality of the arrangements and the sincerity of the performances. The listener will be blown away one moment by the orchestra's all-out bad-boy funkiness, and underwhelmed the next by an Ovaltine-sipping, horn-rimmed glasses-wearing geeky arrangement. The group sounds razor sharp on one track and ramshackle loose on the next. Inconsistencies notwithstanding, Paradise is a very enjoyable album. There are not many groups today performing Latin jazz with true big-band flavor, and Ramírez's orchestra has that in spades.

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