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[Off The Record]
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CALLE 54
(BLUE NOTE)

Director Fernando Trueba chose well when he assembled the 12 performances for his cinematic homage to Latin jazz, so the soundtrack holds up just fine on its own ó in fact, Tito Puenteís " New Arrival " is easier to take without the leaderís shameless mugging. This disc covers a wide swath of pan-Hispanic territory, from Brazilian pianist Elaine Elias to Nuyorican trumpeter Jerry González and the Fort Apache Band to Cuban bassist Cachaíto and pianist father/son Bebo and Chucho Valdés and Dominican pianist Michel Camillo. A lackluster showing from Argentinian saxophonist Gato Barbieri excepted, all are at the top of their game, with the Cubans providing most of the high points.

Expatriate alto-saxophonist Paquito DíRivera sets the pan-Latin tone with the leadoff " Panamericana, " which blends an Argentinian tango with religious Cuban santería bata drumming and jazz. A duo between Cachao and Bebo Valdés provides the purest Cuban stylings on an elegant and funky version of " Lágrimas negras. " Chucho Valdés, who combines jaw-dropping technique with rice-and-beans Cuban rhythms, rips through a volatile " Caridad amaro. " The music is fresh and immediate and untouched by the nostalgia of the many Buena Vista Social Club spinoffs. Itís a much-needed reminder that Latin music not only has a noble past but an exciting present and a promising future.

BY ED HAZELL

Issue Date: June 7 - 14, 2001





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