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Album Review

Conga player Ray Barretto's Trancedance is hardly a typical Latin affair, as the music is extremely wide-ranging, including 20th century classical works, classic jazz works from several decades, a pop hit, and originals by the leader. His core band consists of trumpeter John Bailey, pianist John Di Martino, saxophonist Adam Kolker, bassist Gregg August, and drummer Vince Cherico. Di Martino's intricate scoring of Monty Alexander's "Renewal" (incorporating several guest Latin percussionists plus James Moody's magical flute) is the perfect opener, followed by a similar lineup tackling the pianist's brisk arrangement of Randy Weston's "Hi-Fly." Kolker's inventive take of Thelonious Monk's "'Round About Midnight" may be the most innovative since George Russell's famous recording of "'Round Midnight" on the Riverside release Ezz-Thetics. Kolker's intriguing approach to two segments of The Grand Canyon Suite ("Sunset" and "On the Trail") find him interweaving his soprano sax with Moody's flute, while the Latin percussion fits right in with the loping gait of the donkeys in "Sunset." Kolker switches to tenor sax for a rather brisk rendition of "On the Trail." Transforming Peggy Lee's hit "Fever" into a Latin setting makes it even more sensuous, particularly with his come-hither soprano sax. All of Barretto's originals also merit praise, especially his tribute to the late conga player Tito Puente, who helped put the instrument on the map in jazz. This is easily one of Ray Barretto's best all-around recordings.

Biography

Born: 29 April 1929 in Brooklyn, NY

Genre: Salsa and Tropical

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

While Ray Barretto's congas have graced more recording sessions than virtually any other conguero of his time, he has also led some refreshingly progressive Latin jazz bands over the decades. His records often have a more tense, more adventurously eclectic edge than those of most conventional salsa groups, unafraid to use electronics and novel instrumental or structural combinations, driven hard by his rocksteady, endlessly flexible percussion work. This no doubt reflects Barretto's wide range of...
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Trancedance, Ray Barretto
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