As the preeminent post-Johnny Pacheco flutist in Afro-Cuban music, Maraca has lofty expectations, and he lives up to them all on this incredible recording of Cuban and jazz-based instrumental and vocal music. The horn charts are invigorating on every cut, the singing authentic and vibrant. Maraca's flute positively dances. Maraca has able help from pianists Oswan Ponciano and Alfaro Garcia, saxophonists Luis and David Sanchez, altoist Pedro Valle, tenor Pedro Valle, trumpeters Angel Gonzalez and Alexander Brown, Brown's wife, flutist Celine, tres master Pancho Amat, percussionist Jesus Madera, 19-year-old prodigy Yaroldy Abreu, drummer El Peje, and world-class singers Compay Segundo, Lino Borges, Moises "Yumuri" Valle, Rolo Martinez, Aramis "El Nino", and Pio Leyva. The band comes out of the chute hot with three upbeat numbers -- the roaring instrumental melodicism of the title track sets the bar high; "Me Gusta Mas el Son" features Leyva and Martinez singing over a bed of Maraca's darting flute; and "Maraca's Tumbao" showcases some hot piano and horns. Ponciano's piano work on the first two cuts, and Garcia's on the third, is buoyant, substantive, and as clean as it gets. Things get hotter near the end of the CD, on the straight clave "Ven Vamo' a Bailar," with Yumuri singing and Ponciano jamming in incessant midtempo fashion. The instrumental "OK Santo Domingo" is funkier, with complex horns and ringing piano chords leading into a wonderfully bright flute melody. Segundo and Martinez sing the more romantic "Quiero a Mi Guajira," while the famous "Vale Todo" is sung by El Nino. The most jazzed-up number, "Mambo Jazz Plaza," finds David Sanchez and Maraca locked in a tenor flute intro battle. The middle of the recording features some very pleasant group vocals, on "La Bomba," the slower "Ven Aqui a la Realidad," and "Los Tamalitos." "Selva" concludes at a 6/8 funk pacing, with heavy, happy horns. Very highly recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos