Rumba Club

Radio Mundo

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Rumba Club's fourth Palmetto release is a danceable romp, albeit a sophisticated one, mixing originals and covers in a variety of Latin forms such as mambo, cha cha, salsa, bolero, guiro, and guaracha. After opening with a reinvention of Joni Mitchell's "This Flight Tonight," the band goes on to interpret a number of Latin dance standards, hip originals (by trumpeter Alex Norris and percussionist Jim Hannah), and jazz classics (including an appealing mambo rendition of John Coltrane's "Straight Street"). Bassist Josh Schwartzman is the group's primary arranger, and producer Andy Gonzalez makes several guest appearances on bass and percussion. Pianist Tim Murphy's selective use of Fender Rhodes is a beautiful touch, and vocalists Alfredo Mojica, Jr. and Gary Sosias make "Quien Sabe-Sabe" and "Sonaremos el Tambo" come alive in block-party fashion. Indeed, Rumba Club's mission is to imbue even the most sophisticated Latin jazz with populist appeal. This is made explicit in a liner-note account of the band's listening party in a Bronx pizzeria, during which everyone present -- mothers, children, police officers, etc. -- got up and danced. Hearing the record, one can just picture the scene.

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