Latin Jazz

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The Latin Jazz genre at JMA is a catch all genre for jazz bands that use Latin rhythms, but do not fit our Bossa Nova or Afro Cuban genres. Many of the bands listed here mix rhythms from Brazil, Cuba, Central America and Africa in ways that are not always easy to categorize or define.

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Showing only albums and live's | Based on members ratings & JMA custom algorithm | 60 min. caching

ASTOR PIAZZOLLA Tango: Zero Hour / Nuevo Tango: Hora Zero Album Cover Tango: Zero Hour / Nuevo Tango: Hora Zero
ASTOR PIAZZOLLA
5.00 | 3 ratings
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GATO BARBIERI Chapter Three: Viva Emiliano Zapata (aka Gato Barbieri) Album Cover Chapter Three: Viva Emiliano Zapata (aka Gato Barbieri)
GATO BARBIERI
4.91 | 4 ratings
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GATO BARBIERI Under Fire Album Cover Under Fire
GATO BARBIERI
4.89 | 3 ratings
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CAL TJADER Cal Tjader-Stan Getz Sextet Album Cover Cal Tjader-Stan Getz Sextet
CAL TJADER
4.95 | 2 ratings
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GATO BARBIERI Chapter Four: Alive in New York Album Cover Chapter Four: Alive in New York
GATO BARBIERI
4.95 | 2 ratings
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CAL TJADER Amazonas Album Cover Amazonas
CAL TJADER
4.95 | 2 ratings
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CAL TJADER Cuban Fantasy Album Cover Cuban Fantasy
CAL TJADER
4.95 | 2 ratings
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CAL TJADER Soul Sauce Album Cover Soul Sauce
CAL TJADER
4.68 | 4 ratings
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GATO BARBIERI Yesterdays (aka The Third World Revisited) Album Cover Yesterdays (aka The Third World Revisited)
GATO BARBIERI
4.63 | 4 ratings
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MILTON NASCIMENTO Geraes Album Cover Geraes
MILTON NASCIMENTO
4.67 | 3 ratings
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MILTON NASCIMENTO Courage Album Cover Courage
MILTON NASCIMENTO
4.75 | 2 ratings
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MILTON NASCIMENTO Milton Nascimento & Som Imaginario ‎: Milagre Dos Peixes (Gravado Ao Vivo) Album Cover Milton Nascimento & Som Imaginario ‎: Milagre Dos Peixes (Gravado Ao Vivo)
MILTON NASCIMENTO
4.75 | 2 ratings
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CHARLIE SEPULVEDA
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latin jazz Music Reviews

PAQUITO D'RIVERA Tico! Tico!

Album · 1989 · Latin Jazz
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Ever since defecting from his native Cuba in 1968 due to the musical constraints placed upon him, PAQUITO D’RIVERA has been dazzling the world with his unique clarinet and saxophone playing thus winning all kinds of awards including a dozen Grammy’s and has taken the Latin jazz world by storm. It wasn’t until i was exposed to a Chesky Records Jazz sampler that i was personally introduced to his talents. The effervescent and upbeat swinging Cuban grooves of the track TICO TICO that was from the album of the same name blew all the other tracks on the sampler away and i was an instant fan which inevitably led me to find the album from which the track was lifted. TICO TICO was D’RIVERA’s debut release for Chesky Records and would launch his career into the ears of a Latin music starved public eager to consume the tropical musical fruits of the warm Caribbean isle separated from most of the world since the revolution of 1959.

Lo and behold, the album TICO TICO (the word ‘tico’ in Spanish refers to a Costa Rican) came into my hands when i was finding a new appreciation for pure Latin jazz outside the parameters of the rock fusion efforts of Santana and others. While i was expecting an album of similar upbeat and jovial exuberance that is heard on the title track, i was pretty much treated to a much more diverse array of Latin jazz gems that ran the gamut of Spanish classical guitar, Afro-Latin swing, salsa, funk and hard bop all interspersed with Western classical touches of sophistication. Right from the get go on the beginning track “Danza Caracteristica” (Typical Dance) we are blown away by a classical guitar workout that would make Segovia proud followed by a magical cauldron of a hard bop drive, New Orleans style clarinet gymnastics and Latin jazz sprightliness intermingled with creative and ear-pleasing melodies.

On board is a team of 10 musicians trading off their retrospective contributions on various tracks lending a totally diverse feel to the album as the caffeinated energy-fueled workouts cede to more contemplative and subdued ballads as heard on tracks like “Añorado Encuentro” (Yearned-for Meeting” with sultry sax solos accompanying bebopping bass lines, Latin percussion and the tinkling keys of the piano. D’RIVERA’s virtuosity on both the clarinet and tenor sax guarantees a richness devoid of many a Latin jazz album that more often than not fall into the one-dimensional zones of traditional Cuban sons, rumbas, mambos or boleros. While upon first listening to this overlap of styles and genres, it completely threw me off as i was not expecting the seamless fusionist approach of integrating Western classical with American jazz and Latin traditionals and i was in the end humbled by the fact that it works so well together, a true cocktail of conquest that triumphantly declares independence from any of the individual genres upon which this type of music could be pigeon-holed into the ranks of.

As the listener soaks in the tropical delights dished out by guitarists Fareed Haque and Romero Lubambo effortlessly weaving their textured timbres into the wind virtuosity of D’RIVERO and piano sensations of Danilo Perez, which create a musical tension, it is gracefully kept in balance by a steadfast percussive and rhythmic drive. Bassist David Fink in cahoots with the drumming skills of Mark Waller and Portinho tame the wilder aspects of the music which sometimes feel like horses chomping at the bit to run around the track leaving the rest of the band in the dust. As the music can prove a little disorienting upon first listen as the musicians somehow wend and wind their respective parts into a greater whole that places firm emphasis on an overall melodic arc that is composed of stunning bits and pieces of musical maestrohood, they redeem themselves by keeping it all together in total harmony like a flock of birds flying together in perfect unison. As many pleasantries can be gleaned from TICO TICO, it still seems a tad bloated as a whole and could have used a bit of trimming in the editing department as the tracks near the end offer hints of redundancy that may have been better nixed in the editing room. Nitpicking aside, TICO TICO remains an outstanding example of Latin jazz all gussied up with all kinds of musical jewels awaiting a night on the town for a rip roaring musical fête du jour that leaves the listener intoxicated and wanting more. Good stuff.

TERCETO KALI Terceto Kali

Album · 2016 · Latin Jazz
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Jason McGuire is a native Texan who, over the years, has built a strong international following for his fiery flamenco guitar style. In the past, Jason has usually worked for other artists and dance companies, but with his new group, Terceto Kali, McGuire shows he is ready to step forward as a band leader and composer of considerable skill. Although rooted in flamenco, Terceto Kali’s music features so many diverse influences that it could easily be considered a new genre of flamenco-fusion. Although most of us are used to hearing flamenco performed with guitar and handclaps, McGuire builds more of a jazz combo type effect by adding Paul Martin Sounder on bass and Maruion Aldana on drums. This trio’s sound is more similar to modern post bop and Latin fusion than what we would normally expect from a flamenco artist.

Along with the complex and nuanced rhythms of flamenco, McGuire and his group pull from a variety of other rhythms based in Latin America and the US. “Mira Mira” finds the rhythm section hitting a rumba groove while McGuire floats his improvised melodies on top. On “Tico Paco”, McGuire pays tribute to his idol, Paco de Lucia, with a traditional alegrias, which is then transformed with elements of gospel and RnB. “Romance” is a delicately performed melodic ballad with hints of modern folk and neo-soul. On closing cut. “Motivation”, Jason and his group play a free improv avant-garde form of flamenco, possibly a first, and it works surprisingly well.

Jason is considered one of the top flamenco guitarists today, and his rapid and precise technique will not disappoint anyone, but this is flamenco music for a brand new era. McGuire has built an imaginative musical world on Terceto Kali, a world where flamenco is being taken places that it has never gone to before.

KAT PARRA Songbook of the Américas

Album · 2016 · Latin Jazz
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js
Taking a quick glance at vocalist Kat Parra’s new CD, you might get the impression that this is another one of those ‘Great American Songbook’ albums, but a closer look at the title reveals an important extra ‘s’, as the correct title is “Songbook of the Americas”, with the word ‘Americas’ letting us know that these songs include the entire north and south continents, from Chile to the USA. Kat covers a lot of ground on here with songs that come from Cuba, Peru, Argentina and more, and styles as varied as mambo, cha-cha, be-bop, rumba and much more. None of this is out of her reach, as Parra is well versed in vocal styles all over the globe.

“Songbook of the Americas” opens nicely with a mambo version of the well known standard, “Four”, for which Kat added new lyrics. This is followed by a cha-cha version of Betty Carter’s sassy “Please do Something” and a swinging version of Bird’s “Au Privave” (re-titled “Wouldn’t it be Sweet”), for which Kat once again provided new lyrics. The album picks up a bit when Tuck and Patti join Kat on her original “Dare to Dream”, as Kat and Patti’s harmonizing together is truly remarkable, but things really start to take off when Kat settles into more traditional Latin fare.

Something happens to Parra’s voice when she sings in Spanish on “Maria Lando”, Veinte Anos” and “Como La Cigarra”. These Latin songs call for a different style of singing and it seems to fit Kat well as she brings the power and passion in her voice up a few notches. The album closes out with four more tracks, including a vocal duet with Nate Pruitt on a rumba version of “Till there was You”. Album closer, “Mambo Italiano”, brings things to an end with a sense of humor.

There are a lot of pluses on “Songbook of the Americas”, Kat’s many duets with her guests are all outstanding, and her contributions in writing and arranging show that she is much more than just a singer. This album will probably be one of the more original vocal albums to come out this year.

CHICO HAMILTON The Best Of Chico Hamilton

Boxset / Compilation · 1969 · Latin Jazz
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“The Best of Chico Hamilton” is a collection of music that Hamilton recorded for the Impulse label. These songs were recorded between 1963 and 66, and were so ahead of their time, that even though “Best of” did not come out until 1969, most of these songs were still ahead of the curve. Much of that first wave of fusion and Latin fusion that will hit in the late 60s can be traced back to Hamilton’s mid 60s albums on Impulse. Even following the musicians tells a story, as Hamilton’s saxophonist on several of these cuts, Charles Lloyd, will leave Hamilton’s band to form an early proto fusion group with Jack DeJohnette and Keith Jarret, both of whom will eventually join Miles Davis’ early fusion group. You can also hear the beginnings of the west coast Latin rock movement on many of these songs too.

Almost all of these tracks feature a core group of Al Stinson on bass, Gabor Szabo on guitar and Hamilton on drums. Gabor is by far the main soloist, with Charles Lloyd showing up on a few tracks, and Larry Coryell covering guitar on one blues track that sounds out of place with the rest of the material. Most of the cuts on “Best of Chico” are pretty solid, with a few that are not the best, which leads to the question, did the producers of this album pick the best material? Overall it seems they didn’t do too bad of a job; songs like “Forest Flower” and “Conquistadors” are essential early Latin fusion, and “Evil Eye” is an excellent exotic gem, but two well known pop ballades, while played imaginatively, maybe could have been replaced with something a little more substantial. Finally, Coryell’s bluesy “Larry of Arabia” is pure fluff and a waste of space.

Chico Hamilton played a wide variety of styles during the course of his career, and this album is a fairly good, but not outstanding, sampling of what he was up to during the mid 60s.

CHICO HAMILTON El Chico

Album · 1965 · Latin Jazz
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Chico Hamilton is one of the more overlooked artists to come out of the west coast’s creative music scene in the late 50s and early 60s. A second look at his career is deserved as he helped originate that peculiarly west coast style of jam session that draws on Latin and Asian influences, as well as an open “anything goes’ sort of attitude. His combination of Latin rhythms and raga style modal excursions will blossom during the late 60s Latin rock explosion involving Santana, Malo, Azteca, El Chicano and more, and his music will also influence many of the new fusion bands such as the early Return to Forever.

In many ways, Chico’s “El Chico” is mostly a collection of jam sessions, and there are plenty of great solos, mostly from guitarist Gabor Szabo, but much of this record is more about the Latin grooves and the way the band’s three member percussion section rides those grooves. Gabor shines with his ‘raga’ style guitar solos that slowly build, many songs feature only Gabor, but there are also occasional flute and sax solos from the brilliant Sadao Watanabe.

Some highlights on here include side two opener “Conquistadors”, with its driving Latin boogaloo beat, and “El Moors”, a percussion driven exotic flute melody with a bit of Sun Ra flavor. The albums peaks though with “Strange”, an alto sax ballade that Hamilton used to play with Eric Dolphy. This is Sadao ‘s moment to shine as he plays the beautiful melody while invoking Dolphy’s idol, Charlie Parker, as well as Eric himself. Fans of west coast jazz from the late 50s to the early 60s know that this music exists in a world all its own, and Chico’s “El Chico” is a great example of that world of bongo beating beatniks that will soon give way to acid rock and jazz fusion.

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Artists with Latin Jazz release(s)

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