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Afro-Latin jazz is often at its dazzling best when a driving clave starts things with a bang and visceral leads then take it up a few notches. Volcan do this in spades, but it’s not really much of a surprise when you consider the band's personnel: keyboardist Gonzalo Rubalcaba, drummer Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez, bassist Armando Gola, and percussionist Giovanni Hidalgo. Between them, they’ve recorded countless projects and worked together in various capacities, yet this is their first go-round together as a band. The de facto leader here, Rubalcaba contributed the three original tunes and provides the lead voice on piano and a multitude of synthesizers (sometimes in the same song). Of his originals, the dazzling runs on “Volcan” stand out, though the space funk of “Sin Punto…” isn’t far behind. The album is rounded out by covers that include the Afro-Cuban “Pan La Clave” (with an excellent solo from Gola) and a fun take on “Salt Peanuts.” The group also taps Brazil’s rich musical tradition with a percolating version of “Cosario” (which features singer Maridalia Hernández) and a fresh take on Chico Buarque’s “Ano Novo.”

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Volcan, Volcan
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