Since the repertoire for cello octet is small and consists almost entirely of arrangements and new works, expect Four Winds, Conjunto Ibérico's 2002 release, to be somewhat eccentric and experimental. Leader Elias Arizcuren and his virtuoso cellists seek a happy medium between the intimacy and clarity of a much smaller chamber group, and the richness and power of a full string orchestra; but such a balance is hard to sustain, and their shifting back and forth feels unsteady. In Terry Riley's Requiem for Adam, the ensemble is pulled between extremes of symphonic density and chamber transparency, and this heavy arrangement seems only to distort the dynamics and textures of the original version for string quartet.
'Conjunto Jagüey' was created just over a year by the Dominican master Pedro Cruz, bassist and arranger, and Colombian singer and composer Andrés Carabalí, both interested in keeping alive the roots of Antillean and Latin music. Cruz made musical studies with Ovidio Garcia and Johnny Colón, has worked for years in New York with artists like Lalo Rodriguez, Paquito Guzman, Tommy Olivencia, Cheo Feliciano and Johnny Pacheco. Carabalí has worked with several salsa bands as The Great Pinkie and Cano Estremera as vocalist. This album is the debut of 'Jagiiey' as a salsa group, in which two trumpets, piano, bass, three percussion (conga and bongo) and vocalists are integrated.