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Putumayo Presents:
Latin Jazz
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Spanish language music: Latin Jazz


Latin jazz is a hybrid form of music that originated in the 1940s and that combines African and Latin American rhythms with jazz harmonies made popular in the US. It is essentially a blend of bop-style jazz with Latin percussion. Two main categories are Brazilian and Afro-Cuban, and subgenres include salsa, merengue, songo, son, mambo, bolero, charanga, chachachá, bossa nova, and samba.


Gato Barbieri (Argentina):
CD Gato Barbieri's Finest Hour [2000] • LISTENBUY CD • REVIEW: Gato Barbieri possesses one of the most potent tenor saxophone sounds ever heard, a personal mix of throaty gravel and sweet, singing overtones that can grind its way through thickets of pulsing rhythm or soar overhead. The tracks here come from 1973 to 1979 and cover both Barbieri's years with Impulse, when he was emphasizing Latin polyrhythms and heated improvisation, and the increasing pop emphasis of his years with A&M. "To Be Continued" and "Marissea" are the earliest performances, recorded with the saxophonist ecstatically honking his way through a forest of indigenous percussion. The 10-minute version of "Bahia" from New York's Bottom Line is another highlight, with Barbieri ricocheting and exploding off a six-man rhythm section, while the lilting "Nunca Mas" is further lightened by Dino Saluzzi's bandoneon. Barbieri's balladry is displayed with big bands on the opening "Cuando" and "Speak Low," and he forms a forceful partnership with Carlos Santana on "Latin Lady." -- Review by Adam Rains

CD Gato Barbieri - Greatest Hits [1998] • LISTENBUY CD | CD Qué pasa [1998] • LISTENBUY CD | CD Che Corazón [1999] • LISTEN
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Ray Barretto (Brooklyn, USA)
CD Hot Hands [2003] • LISTEN BUY CD | CD Trancedance [2001] • LISTENBUY CD | CD Carnaval [1973] • LISTENBUY CD
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Mario Bauza (Cuba / New York, USA)
CD A Tribute to Mario Bauza [2001] • LISTEN BUY CD
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Buena Vista Social Club (Cuba)
CD Buena Vista Social Club [1997] • LISTEN BUY CD
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Lila Downs (USA / Mexico)
CD Una sangre [2004] • LISTENBUY CD • REVIEW: There’s no doubt that singer Lila Downs' profile is on the rise after her appearance in the film Frida and on the accompanying soundtrack, which led to a performance at the 2003 Academy Awards. The dividing lines between cultures and classes are major themes throughout the Mexican-American singer's decade-long career; but whereas 2001’s Border is more angry about the disparities, One Blood: Una Sangre is more inclusive, if only for the hopeful note of unity sounded in the English-language version of the title cut (the album has two distinctly different readings of the song sung, respectively, in English and Spanish). While much of the cumbia-based, genre-breaking material here is original, Downs and her band completely revamp two covers: Ritchie Valens classic "La Bamba" features techno beats and African drumming; the folk song "La Cucaracha" opens with wailing guitar before settling into a gentle reggae groove. Stylistically restless and lyrically didactic, One Blood: Una Sangre is as ambitious as it is beautiful. -- Review by Tad Hendrickson

CD La Cantina [2006] • LISTENBUY CD | CD Tree of Life [2000] • LISTENBUY CD | CD La sandunga [2003] • LISTENBUY CD | CD Border [2001] • LISTENBUY CD
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A Night in Havana: Dizzy Gillespie in Cuba
A Night in Havana:
Dizzy Gillespie in Cuba
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Dizzy Gillespie (USA)
CD Dizzy Gillespie - Greatest Hits [1996] • LISTENBUY CD | CD The Complete RCA Victor Recordings: 1937-1949 [1995] • LISTENBUY CD
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Rubén González (Cuba)
CD Indestructible [1998] • LISTENBUY CD | CD Chanchullo [2000] • LISTENBUY CD | CD Indroducing ... Rubén González [1997] • LISTENBUY CD
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Irakere (Cuba)
CD Yemayá [1995] • LISTENBUY CD • REVIEW: The billing (Irakere "featuring Chucho Valdés") illustrates what a draw the leader-pianist Valdés has become in his own right, and Yemayá does indeed showcase his prodigious talents as a keyboardist, albeit on an electro-acoustic instrument and with a set designed as much for the American jazz audience as for his Cuban roots. The opening title cut with Valdés's sister Mayra Caridad on vocals is a killer Latin-soul-jazz workout, while track 2, with blistering solo work from Valdés over a crisp, percussion-led rhythm, sets the tone for the remaining seven extended cuts. This is not so much Cuban music as jazz with a Latin base--complex, disciplined, but swinging hard. The pace is often frenetic, with soloists diving straight in at the deep end, but with sophisticated arrangements there is always plenty of light, shade, and drama. Yemayá represents a new phase for Irakere and is Latin Jazz of the highest caliber, full of virtuosity and passion. -- Review by Derek Rath

CD The Best of Irakere [1994] • LISTENBUY CD | CD Afrocubanismo Live! [1996] • LISTENBUY CD
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Eddie Palmieri (New York, USA)
CD Listen Here! [2005] • LISTENBUY CD | CD Ritmo caliente [2003] • LISTENBUY CD | CD El sonido nuevo: The New Soul Sound [1966] • LISTENBUY CD
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Tito Puente (Harlem, USA / Puerto Rico)
CD The Best of Dance Mania [1994] • LISTENBUY CD • REVIEW: This is the most outstanding remaster of 1958's Dance Mania, boasting Tito Puente at the peak of his popularity and the height of New York mambomania in the late 1950s. The sound quality of the collection is incredible, capturing with vivid clarity the sentient brass, lush layers of percussion, and big-band interplay on some of the most superb interpretations of Cuban son montuno, bolero, guaguancó, cha cha, and mambo. The Best of Dance Mania saunters and struts with a sensual Cuban passion that makes one want to grab a partner and mambo in pumps and beehive across the living room floor. But these are only a few of the reasons to adore this CD. Some of the greatest Cuban musicians were in Tito's big band at this time: vocalist Santitos Colon and his classic, silken voice; Ray Barretto and Francisco Aguabella and their surefooted congas; and a youthful Doc Severinsen--not to mention the astounding timbale and vibe work from Tito himself. Overall, the quality of musicianship is stellar. While Buena Vista Social Club and its subsequent--albeit well-deserved--spinoff albums continue to charm American ears, The Best of Dance Mania quietly sits under our noses, waiting for discovery by those interested not only in the era of Cuba's Tropicana nightclub, but in the raging scene that happened in America as well. --Review by Karen Karleski

CD The Essential Tito Puente [2005] • LISTEN BUY CD | CD King of Kings: The Best of Tito Puente [2002] • LISTEN BUY CD | CD Oye como va: The Dance Collection [1997] • LISTENBUY CD
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Poncho Sanchez (Texas, USA)
CD Raise Your Hand [2007] • LISTENBUY CD | CD Do it! [2005] • LISTENBUY CD | CD The Ultimate Latin Dance Party [2002] • LISTENBUY CD | CD Afro-Cuban Fantasy [1998] • LISTENBUY CD | Live CD Latin Soul [1995] • LISTENBUY CD
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Arturo Sandoval (Cuba)
CD The Best of Arturo Sandoval [1997] • LISTENBUY CD • REVIEW: This album offers a selection of Sandoval's better known jazz fanfares, full of the kind of roundhouse melodies and cantering tempos that allow his prodigious chops room to maneuver. Sandoval is also capable of gentle caresses and inventive turns of phrase, which he works in between foghorn blasts on tracks like his own "Luna de miel en Guama," and Abelardo Valdes's "Almendra." The rest of the songs here range from such familiar American fare as the show tune "Maria" and Dizzy Gillespie's "A Night in Tunisia," to Sandoval's own "Red Moon" and "Blues en dos partes," and a Latin reworking of "My Way," naturally entitled "A mi manera." All eventually serve as the musical equivalent of batting practice for the slugger/trumpeter, who sends note after note flying into the bleachers. -- Review by Britt Robson

CD Arturo Sandoval & the Latin Jazz Orchestra [2007] • LISTENBUY CD | CD Rumba Palace [2007] • LISTENBUY CD | CD The Very Best of Arturo Sandoval [2004] • LISTENBUY CD | CD Trumpet Evolution [2003] • LISTENBUY CD | CD Hot House [1998] • LISTENBUY CD | CD Arturo Sandoval and the Latin Train [1995] • LISTENBUY CD | CD Danzon (Dance On) [1994] • LISTEN
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Lalo Schifrin (Argentina)
Soundtrack Dirty Harry [2004] LISTENBUY CD | CD Latin Jazz Suite [1999] • LISTEN BUY CD
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Bebo Valdés (Cuba / Sweden)
CD Recuerdos de Habana: A Portrait at 80 [2000] • LISTENBUY CD • REVIEW: Even though he has lived in Sweden for four decades, Bebo Valdés's playing is so poignantly Cuban that you can practically smell the cigar tobacco. Some will remember Valdes as a standout on the soundtrack for Calle 54 or from his Blue Note album El Arte del Sabor from 2001. Here, on Recuerdos de Habana, a double-disc set first released as an import in 1999, he plays with the same fire as on the above two albums. The pianist often goes it alone or is joined by his young son Rickard on timbales, while occasionally they are joined by other percussionists or bass. Regardless of the setting, Valdés’s playing sparkles as he rolls from bolero to mambo to guajira with the same ferocious yet romantic piano style that he taught his son Chucho. Along with 28 songs, fans also get a fascinating interview and music lesson in English with the pianist. As good a self-portrait as one could hope for, Recuerdos is required listening for Cuban jazz fans. --Tad Hendrickson

CD Bebo [2006] • BUY CD | CD Lágrimas negras [2003] • LISTENBUY CD | CD Descargas del Bebo [2001] • LISTEN
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Chucho Valdés (Cuba)
CD New Conceptions [2003] • LISTENBUY CD | CD Briyumba palo congo [1999] • LISTENBUY CD | CD Solo: Live in New York [2001] • LISTENBUY CD
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Bolero | Cumbia | Flamenco | Latin Jazz | Latin Pop
Latin Rap / Hip Hop | Mambo | Mariachi | Merengue | Ranchera
Rock en Español | Rumba | Salsa | Tango | Tejano / TexMex

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