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Album Review

With a Latin jazz-style lineup and salsa/timba rhythms close to his heart, Carlos Cascante makes a bold entrance onto the ever-growing U.S. Latin music scene. The Costa Rican-born, Seattle-based vocalist has all the vocal prowess and swing of his Old Havana sonero forefathers. The other standout on Cascante's debut record, Recuerdos, is pianist Julio Jauregui. A multi-instrumentalist and seasoned bandleader from Mexico City, half the clever, jazz-inspired tunes are from Jauregui's pen. The pair is joined by some of the Pacific Northwest's finest sidemen for the simultaneously danceable and intricately sophisticated record. The music is both close enough to home to feel full and familiar, and inventive and fresh enough to truly engage. Cascante himself similarly seems to know both where he's come from and, and where he's going. A talented improviser and gutsy frontman, Carlos Cascante is salsa's most underrated vocalist. Funky instrumentation and a diamond-in-the-rough sonero make for quite a record. Cascante and company can boast some Latin jazz headliners as friends, some of whom join them for a tune or two, including conguero Paoli Mejias, vocalist Ray Vega, and bassist Joe Santiago. To round out the package, the production value is surprisingly high quality for such a low-profile release. In a just and fair world, Recuerdos would be all over the charts. ~ Evan C. Gutierrez, Rovi

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Recuerdos, Carlos Cascante y su Tumbao
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