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Album Review

Concord Jazz did a smashing job on Hot Hands of reissuing two stellar yet under-the-radar Latin jazz albums by Ray Barretto's New World Spirit ensemble of the 1990s. Hot Hands consists of Ancestral Messages, first released in 1993, and Taboo, which was issued the following year. The connection between the two albums goes deeper than chronology. The former is a look back over Barretto's many influences in both Latin Soul, salsa and Afro-Cuban music, and the latter is a new articulation of those influences, resulting in what the percussionist himself called his "most organic album." These are the first two records released by his truly great New World Spirit band, which seeded in equal parts the salsa and tough hard-bop and bebop jazz that Barretto loved. Both albums are loaded with chops, brilliant charts, and deft, even astonishing soloing in places; and then of course there are the rhythms which are so complex yet completely acccessible and addictive, one has to dance. Ray Vega, the great trumpet player, is present on both recordings as are Hector Martignon on piano and drummer Satoshi Takeishi. The price is right and the sound is warm and bright. This is highly recommended for anyone interested in Barretto's final creative period (of many), where his complete genius was on full display.

Hot Hands, New World Spirit
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