The incredible pianist Hector Martignon has released many top-level recordings since his days as a sideman with Ray Barretto, but Second Chance signifies a look back while searching for his future direction. Many of these compositions are revisits of previous albums with different personnel, emphasizing the horns of saxophonist Xavier Perez and trumpeter John Walsh, giving them more of a jazz rather than Latin jazz feel. While his Colombian and South American roots are very much present in the music, not to mention his personal virtuosity, Martignon seems ready to make a move toward composed, modern neo-bop as evidenced on at least half of this effort. It's the hopped-up version of "Alone Together" at the end of the CD -- with acknowledged influence of the late keyboardist Don Grolnick -- that gives rise to this contention. His acoustic keyboard is a bit under the radar in the mix except when he solos, but tracks like Joao Bosco's bubbling and rumbling modal samba "Bala Con Bala" (also featuring vibraphonist Tim Collins) and the heavier "Andrea" from 6/8 in 4/4 time, are closer to his identity as standouts. A soulful, romantic approach is heard, as well as a simmering danzon, slow seductive guajira, or funky commercial side. Fellow Colombian-born hand percussionist Samuel Torres (check out his efforts as a leader) is a big part of the band, while Edmar Castaneda (harp) and Vinny Valentino (guitar) make cameo appearances. This is a recording to savor, definitely listen to more than once, and keep in your collection, especially if you have the original versions of these finely crafted pieces of gold, so you can hear how they have evolved and acquired a new sheen.
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AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos