Deep Rumba

This Night Becomes a Rumba

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It is said that a master perfects technique in order to transcend it. This deeply satisfying disc, which merits a presence on 1998 best-of lists, applies the theory to rumba and proves it. Steeped in the tradition of voice- and percussion-based music, the members of Deep Rumba allow their talents and spirits to soar. The players are enormously sensitive to each other at all tempos. Most instructive is their "Sunshine of Your Love." Typically, a Latin jazz band would simply play the tune with a different beat; here the familiar rhythmic underpinning provides the basis for inspired percussion improvisation, and one doesn't notice until it's over that the melody never made an appearance. Also of note is Jerry Gonzalez' contribution on "The Bronx With Palms Trees," where his dreamy trumpet vamps weave in and out of the complex of sound, reminiscent of the tone and texture of early electric-era Miles Davis bands. Least satisfying are the couple of vocal ballads toward the end of the disc, essentially generic Latin pop fare. On a program of over 63 minutes, they were not needed as filler.

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