Jorge Dalto


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The late Jorge Dalto is not well known to American jazz fans, though he should be. The Argentinean pianist, composer, and arranger played on many Latin dates with Tito Puente, Machito, and Gato Barbieri. He was also a key member of Puente and Carlos "Patato" Valdes' Percussion Jazz Ensemble. But more than any other reason is that Dalto served as a pianist and was musical director for George Benson on a little album from the 1976 called Breezin'. This date is one of the unfortunate few that lists Dalto as a leader. Rendevous was recorded in New York in 1983, but unfortunately was only previously available in Japan. The Explore imprint is doing a bang-up job in reissuing recordings from Cheetah in the United States and in the European Union; the liner booklet is in three languages. The "Superfriends" Dalto lists as his band are indeed the cream of the crop of studio aces, and stars in their own right: David Sanborn, Benson, Bob Mintzer, Eric Gale, Steve Gadd and Buddy Williams as drummers, Tom Browne, Valdes, and Hector Casanova, to name just a few. This is top-notch, beautifully produced contemporary jazz with a Latin flair. Dalto's compositions and arrangements are subtler than many of American contemporaries and groove and flow are very important elements in his textural and dynamic architecture. The opener, "You're Like an Angel," is a lithe, limpid affair with beautiful saxophone work from Sanborn, and Dalto's keyboards are subtly shaded and full of colors. He takes "Poinciana," into Latin funk territory -- just a shade, and Benson's melodic introductory solo on the melody is very tasteful. Dalto's own fills on the piano accent the rhythmic shift in the tune. The Afro-Cuban melody line in "Mountain Song" is in contrast to its funky-butt rhythm. Benson contributes his own take on the Latin jazz with "My Latin Brother," beginning with a rhumba, Dalto takes the first solo on the melody and it's a glorious combination of rhythmic invention and lyricism. Benson follows with a stellar guitar break to answer as Dalto comps mightily behind him. That said, even as the two trade back and forth, the track stays in groove temperament. There is a trio of female backing vocalists here, but their presence is not unwarranted or unwelcome on the cuts they appear on -- check the easy R&B swell in "It's Magic." Three Dalto compositions close out the set; the calypso jazz sprint of "Jamboree" crackles. And while it sounds like steel drums, it's merely the deft keyboard work of the composer simulating them complemented by Gale's tight guitar work and Browne's fine solo. "Hotel du Globe" says it all: from the jungles of Africa to the palm beaches of the Caribbean and Brazil to the mountains of South America. Dalto's double-handed soloing here is rather dazzling, and his atmospheric keyboard work pushes the band into something approaching overdrive without losing the good-time vibe. Anthony Jackson's bubbling, popping bassline here is stellar as is Valdes' percussion work and a blazing solo by Benson. In sum, Rendevous is a welcome addition to the contemporary jazz shelf, and stands up decades later, as a work of remarkable craftsmanship and creativity.

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