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Album Review

Una Más is an outstanding set of Latin jazz from the D.C. area's finest Latin big band. The band makes use of surprisingly complex arrangements of largely new compositions, both Latin pieces transformed into somewhat jazzier arrangements (as in the opening "Golpe de Cumaco") and jazz pieces given a Latin flavor (as in main arranger Vince Norman's "El Otoño"). Rounded out with a few Latinized classic pieces from the likes of Cal Tjader and Benny Golson, the band swings strongly through a variety of Afro-bop, post-bop, and modern Latin jazz realms. The key here isn't just in the arrangements, though. It's in the performances, with the group displaying much of what separates a modern big band from a classic-styled big band — an ability to create large-scale fanfares and harmonies as a group, but to back down and allow long solos to shine. It's in those solos — those periods of contrapuntal wanderings, those blasts of brass that punctuate the bridges — that the band really shines. They work together closely, but when they combine their power, and especially their brass, for both explosions and explorations, they find a special sort of ground.

Una Más, Afro Bop Alliance
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