On Time Was - Time Is, veteran conguero Ray Barretto and his Latin jazz sextet (with percussionist Bobby Sanabria guesting on four songs) are in ways the Art Blakey Jazz Messengers of Afro-Cuban jazz. While the music on this set is essentially Latinized hard bop, with plenty of heated solos from trumpeter Joe Magnarelli and altoist Myron Walden, a few tunes are revived and modernized from Barretto's earlier days including a Cuban lullaby ("Drume Negrita"), a French ballad ("Syracuse"), and an inventive transformation of the gospel standard "Motherless Child." Although this European release will not be as widely circulated as Barretto's slightly earlier Concord recordings, it is on the same high level and is easily recommended to fans of Barretto's blend of hard bop and Latin rhythms.
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AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow