Born Jose Calderon in Spanish Harlem N.Y.C. of Puerto Rican parentage, conga player anad bandleader Joe Cuba was one of the most successful N.Y. Latin artists in crossing over to non-hispanic audiences. At the forefront of the Latin boogaloo trend, which incorporated black music in a fusion of Latin rhythms and piano montunos with R&B and even jazz, his sextet used English to penetrate the American public, sometimes using themes which incorporated the two languages. Tnis CD of some of the finest work by the Joe Cuba Sextet is compiled from the five key albums Steppin Out, Diggin' The Most, Comin' At You , Breakin' Out, and Para Enamorados Siempre, which they recorded for the revered N.Y. Seeco label from 1962-64. The Joe Cuba Sextet played more than boogaloo. As you will hear on this CD, their repertoire features superb Latin-jazz, joyful mambo, cha cha, bolero, guaracha and other Afro-Cuban rythms including a grooving version of Tito Puente's 'Oye Como Va'.
The third and final collaboration between flutist Bobbi Humphrey and Larry Mizell also marked the end of Humphrey's five-album run with Blue Note Records. Humphrey began recording with Larry and his brother Fonce (who provides arrangements and plays clavinet and trumpet here) in the aftermath of Donald Byrd's Black Byrd, the collaborative jazz-funk effort that resulted in a massively successful (and influential) commercial breakthrough for the trumpeter and the label. While not as well known as her Blacks and Blues album, her stellar debut with the pair from 1973, Fancy Dancer is every bit its aesthetic equal.
For this particular Tito Puente recording, his exciting three-horn, three-percussion Latin jazz octet (which includes longtime saxophone soloist Mario Rivera) is joined by alto great Phil Woods on three of the eight selections, including Thelonious Monk's "Pannonica" and "Repetition." Such songs as "Corner Pocket," "Carioca" and Dizzy Gillespie's "Con Alma" sound perfectly natural in this Afro-Cuban jazz setting, and Puente (well featured on vibes and timbales) is responsible for two originals and seven of the nine arrangements. The music is danceable, adventurous and quite fun.
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