Latin Jazz - Released March 15, 2011 | world village


Latin Jazz - Released June 20, 2006 | Concord Music Group

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography

Latin Jazz - Released May 15, 2015 | Okeh


Latin Jazz - Released June 12, 2015 | Columbia - Legacy

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Although Mongo Santamaria's move to Columbia later signified his transition to crossover fare, his label debut, El Bravo!, makes no concessions or overtures to the pop charts. Armed with a batch of original compositions spanning from boleros to mortunos and backed by a crack session band including trumpeter Marty Sheller and flutist Hubert Laws, Santamaria delivers one of the finest traditional Latin jazz records of the mid-'60s. The virtues of the set are many: Santamaria's conga rhythms are fiery yet tasteful, Sheller's luminous arrangements boast an authentic Cuban flavor, and all of the musicians receive ample opportunity to shine, in particular Laws (whose charanga-inspired flute galvanizes the superb "Monica"). ~ Jason Ankeny

Latin Jazz - Released March 17, 2011 | world village


Latin Jazz - Released April 12, 1995 | Columbia - Legacy


Latin Jazz - Released May 11, 2009 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

Not strictly a jazz album in the strict sense (it was originally issued as part of the Masters of MPB on LP in 1977), Slaves Mass has strong compositional themes among its seven tracks. The maestro Hermeto Pascoal plays everything from flutes, soprano saxophone, guitar, Fender Rhodes, acoustic piano and clavinet on this set, and enlists help from Ron Carter, Airto, Flora Purim, Raul DeSouza, David Maro and others. "Mixing Pot," is the opener and an anomaly in that it is a vanguard fusion tune where Pascoal really digs in and improvises. It also features the only appearance on this set of Alphonso Johnson on electric bass. In "Missa Dos Escravos," the title track, Pascoal's emblematic pig gives his first growls in a song dominated by Brazilian Indian references. Wonderfully and intricately composed, it centers around folk tropes. "Chorinho Para Ele" is a beautiful and modern choro with a somewhat challenging glissando bridge that really proposed new directions for the traditional genre. "Aquela Valsa" is a beautiful six/eight theme that turns into a samba with a beautiful trombone solo by DeSouza. "Cannon" is an utterly improvisational piece that meanders and winds around Pascoal's flute solo. Atonalism dominates the piano solo in "Escuta Meu Piano," which also presents bits and pieces of different styles (like baião) and folk songs. Hot samba improvisation is found in "Geléia de Cereja," that slips and slides through a variety of schema and dynamic changes without much internal focus, but it is a compelling bit of creative anarchy nonetheless in that it displays Pascoal's full range of restless musical and textural impulses -- as well as a beautiful soprano solo. Slaves Mass was finally issued on CD by Collectables in the United States in 2005. ~ Alvaro Neder & Thom Jurek

Latin Jazz - Released April 7, 1997 | Columbia

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
Gato Barbieri's first recording in a decade finds his distinctive (and always passionate) tenor tone still mostly intact. However, he does little other than state the 11 melodies (which range from catchy to completely forgettable), and the backing is quite anonymous, over-produced and obviously geared for potential radio airplay. In fact, if Gato's tenor were replaced by a vocalist, this would be a pop record. It is nice to have Barbieri back on the scene again, but he is capable of much better than this run-of-the-mill effort. ~ Scott Yanow

Latin Jazz - Released August 29, 2001 | Columbia

On this invigorating release, tenor saxophonist David Sánchez uses (primarily) the same working lineup that graced 2000's Melaza. He opted to produce this one himself, however. (Melaza was co-produced by Branford Marsalis.) Like its predecessor, Travesía resounds with rhythmic excitement and advanced compositional technique. But there's a bit more room for spacious lyricism, and even a bit of playfulness. A piece like altoist Miguel Zenon's "Joyful" wouldn't have fit the prevailing mood of Melaza, but here it sparkles. Zenon also penned "The Power of the Word," which closes Travesía on a more aggressive note. There's more non-original material this time around, including a fiery reworking of Wayne Shorter's "Prince of Darkness" and a non-ballad reading (without piano) of the Harold Arlen standard "Ill Wind." Three pieces drawn from Puerto Rican folk tradition -- "La Máchina," "Pra Dizer Adeus," and "Yo No Quiero Piedra" (the last also without piano) -- demonstrate Sánchez's inventiveness with the indigenous plena and bomba forms. The leader's three originals are also very strong: the urgent yet hopeful "Paz Pá Vieques," which begins and ends with lighthearted two-horn sparring; "River Tales," a sultry, dark melody in a dancing 6/8; and "Karla's Changes," a galloping piece, the title of which is probably inspired by Charles Mingus' "Sue's Changes." Magnificent playing abounds from Sánchez, Zenon, and the other main soloist, pianist Edsel Gomez. Despite the commercial pressures that come with a major-label recording career, Sánchez continues to maintain artistic independence and pursue a compelling and original vision. ~ David R. Adler

Latin Jazz - Released March 30, 1999 | Columbia

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
An improvement on tenor saxophonist Gato Barbieri's previous Columbia debut, this outing mostly features his romantic and passionate horn in the spotlight. One song is primarily a vocal feature for Gato. His backup band (which usually includes bassist Mark Egan and guitarist Chuck Loeb) is generally quite spirited, but it is the tenor who stars throughout. Even when sticking to the melody (Gato and Loeb wrote most of the material), there is so much feeling in Barbieri's playing that he largely possesses each song, even an oddly memorable rendition of "Auld Lang Syne." And, although the performances are a bit commercial in spots, Barbieri's sincere emotionalism consistently uplifts this recording. ~ Scott Yanow

Latin Jazz - Released September 3, 1996 | Columbia

David Sanchez shows off his versatility and talented improvising style throughout this diverse and well-conceived set. Ranging from bop (making Thelonious Monk's "Four In One" sound easy) to music in the same area that Joshua Redman is exploring to moments that almost sound like Steve Coleman's M-Base, Sanchez is in consistently creative form. The equally talented pianist Danilo Perez helps out on most cuts, a few selections have added percussion, and there are guest spots for altoist Kenny Garrett (who trades off with Sanchez on a fiery "The Elements") and singer Cassandra Wilson (who sticks to a haunting background on "Los Cronopios"), but the focus is mostly on the leader, who plays some lyrical soprano on two numbers. David Sanchez, who is improving and evolving year by year, has the potential to become a major force in jazz. ~ Scott Yanow

Latin Jazz - Released July 27, 2018 | Time-Life Music

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Latin Jazz - Released April 1, 1998 | Columbia


Latin Jazz - Released May 6, 1994 | Columbia - Legacy

This was tenor saxophonist David Sanchez's recording debut as a leader. At 25, Sanchez already had a fairly distinctive tone and the ability to mix bop with Latin jazz. Assisted on most selections by pianist Danilo Perez, either Peter Washington or Andy Gonzalez on bass and drummer Leon Parker (trumpeter Tom Harrell also has three appearances), Sanchez mostly performs new compositions written by either himself or Perez plus "Woodyn' You," "I'll Be Around" and Jimmy Heath's "CJ." A strong and well-rounded beginning to David Sanchez's solo career. ~ Scott Yanow

Latin Jazz - Released September 3, 2002 | Rhino - Warner Bros.


Latin Jazz - Released November 1, 2005 | Nonesuch

Eddie Palmieri's Palmas starts at full speed and doesn't stop, except for some thoughtful extended piano noodling on "Bolero Dos." The band features three jazz horn players (trumpet, trombone, saxophone) in front of a smokin' Latin rhythm section, all held together by the maestro on piano. Palmieri typically starts off a number with familiar Latin piano patterns which quickly evolve into completely innovative chord combinations. The horn players take the listener on some musical adventures in each of these extended tunes, flying far afield, but always coming back to the theme. The percussionists keep their complex beat for the most part, but occasionally swap rhythmic places with the horns as the timbales or bongos take a solo while the brass pumps out the time. Palmieri's style has evolved significantly over the decades. Fans of his older salsa material will be surprised by Palmas; listeners who discover this man through Palmas will be surprised when they seek out older material. But careful listening reveals surprising constancies in Palmieri's piano playing over the years. Be ready for a trip on this one. ~ Bruce Ishikawa

Latin Jazz - Released January 25, 1993 | RCA Novus


Latin Jazz - Released September 22, 2017 | RCA Victor - Legacy


Latin Jazz - Released June 20, 2006 | Rhino

Over the years, Ray Barretto has commanded respect in two different genres: salsa and Latin jazz. Not surprisingly, his salsa recordings have been much bigger sellers than his Latin jazz recordings -- while artists of the latter genre usually play small clubs, the big names in salsa can easily pack a sports arena in areas with a large Cuban or Puerto Rican population. When this two-LP set came out in 1976, Barretto was a superstar in salsa -- although many of the salseros who loved him for "Guarare" and the cha-cha "Cocinando" (which was the basis for Poncho Sanchez's "Sonando") were less likely to spend money on one of his Latin jazz releases. So not surprisingly, salsa is the main focus of Tomorrow: Barretto Live, which was recorded at New York's Beacon Theater on May 28, 1976. Though the album includes a few Latin jazz instrumentals, most Barretto fans bought it to hear five-star performances of such salsa favorites as "Ahora Si Que Vamo A Gozar," "Guarare," "Cocinando," and "Ban Ban Quere" (which boasts a passionate performance by singer Ruben Blades). Meanwhile, percussionist Tito Puente joins Barretto's hard-swinging band on a 14-minute performance of "Que Viva La Musica." Superb from start to finish, Tomorrow: Barretto Live is among Barretto's essential recordings. ~ Alex Henderson

Latin Jazz - Released June 20, 2006 | Rhino Atlantic

Many pure salsa and Latin jazz fans have a difficult time with Ray Barretto's Atlantic Records period in the late 1970s because he was making a deliberate run at the crossover jazz/dance music charts. Who better to strive for such a thing? Barretto established his bona fides in jazz two decades earlier -- and returned to them time and again until the end of his life. He was also one of the prime innovators in New York's salsa explosion, and even played on pop records as a sideman. His credits are book-length. This set from 1977 has dated well. A very large cast date, it features Stix Hooper, Joe Sample, and Wilton Felder of the Crusaders, as well as a host of West Coast session players from the pop, jazz, and Latin worlds: saxophonist Pete Christlieb, trumpeter Louis "Perico" Ortiz, trombonist Garnett Brown, drummers Terry Bozzio and Angel "Cachete" Maldonado, guitarist Ray Gomez, and bassist Jeff Berlin are just a few of the players who appear. The vibe here is more jazz-funk than fusion or salsa. It features loads of keyboards to balance the percussion load, making it more accessible to non-Latin fans, though the grooves balance the smooth with the steamy. The best tracks are "Here We Go Again," Leti," and "Tumbao Africano," while "Señor Funk" and "Expresso" are fine songs as well. ~ Thom Jurek


Latin Jazz in the magazine
  • From Father to Son
    From Father to Son Chucho Valdés and Arturo O’Farrill celebrate the art of Bebo Valdés and Chico O’Farrill…