Various Artists

Viva Cubop!: Jazz the Afro-Cuban Way

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One of the brightest lights in the '90s Afro-Cuban jazz scene, Cubop sports great recordings from several generations of Latin jazz musicians (from the '50s to the '90s), including Francisco Aguabella, Pucho, Bobby Matos, Snowboy, and the Afro-Rican Ensemble. Viva Cubop! compiles the best tracks from Cubop's artists, most recorded in the late '90s. Though there's an ineffable feeling that these artists are looking back to the '60s and '70s (given the acid jazz orientation of Cubop's mother label, Ubiquity), they're no less brilliant for it. Bobby Matos' sublime cover of "The Creator Has a Master Plan" is one of the best ever of an often-covered song, and "Malanga" by Cuban Roots is a dense, percussion-heavy reworking of a track originally recorded on one of the great forgotten Latin jazz albums of the '60s, 1967's Cuban Roots. There are many other excellent contributions, including Pucho's "Descarga on Las Palmas," Johnny Blas' cover of Freddie Hubbard's "Little Sunflower," and Snowboy's "Tierra Va Tamblar."

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