Alex Torres Y Los Reyes Latinos

Punto de Vista

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Here are funky Latin jams by a cross-cultural ensemble of maestros who blow the doors off the competition. Alex Torres y los Reyes Latinos go deeper into the smoky Caribbean groove on their seventh album (the gringo title is Point of View). While the music dictated by the claves' rhythmic mélange has always been the m.o. of Torres, everything is in overdrive here. As a result, the band has issued some of its most lyrical and whimsical material, while keeping the polyrhythms crisscrossing in a blaze of passion and stunning virtuosity, thanks to the killer charts by Torres -- his most ambitious to date (and this is after Kevin Hendrick left the band). But on cuts like "Falsedades," soul-jazz meets old Cuban son, modern salsa, and big-band jazz harmonics with age-old rhumba tossed in for a mind-blowing mosaic of styles and pyrotechnics. On ballads like "Elena," the soul-jazz tip is a bit more pronounced as it comes through the soprano saxophone and Fender Rhodes, but the melodies are pure Latin coming from off-minor into the shimmering complex front-line horns where lyric is everything and rhythm dictates its nuances. This is a stunning recording, one that, if there were any $&%*#()% justice in the music biz (which there isn't), would make Torres a household name as not only a bandleader and composer, but as a producer and arranger as well. This is the salsa record of 2002, bar none.

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