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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

PETE ESCOVEDO

By MICHAEL STONE
Published May 31, 2006

Live!
Concord Picante

West Coast percussion patriarch, bandleader and timbales master Pete Escovedo ranks as a stylist with the legendary likes of Tito Puente, Cal Tjader and Mongo Santamaria, Willie Bobo and Poncho Sanchez. Coming to fame in the 1960s-’70s with the Escovedo Brothers, Azteca, and Santana, Escovedo helped shape the unique Bay Area Latin jazz sound. Live! best captures the sizzling spontaneity of his big-band, featuring the percussion and vocal talents of sons Juan and Peter Michael, and daughter Sheila E. (a sensation in her own right). Also noteworthy is Joe Rotundi’s anchoring piano, and the growling trombone, arranging and composing of Wayne Wallace (“Que Vivo Yo,” a vintage Latin jazz-rock blend, and “Esta Noche,” the straight-ahead blowout and album opener). The soulful repertoire also embraces two Tjader chestnuts (the laid-back “Pete Kelly’s Blues,” and “Viva Cepeda,” a nod to the one-time San Francisco Giants star that cultivates the patented hard-bop groove of Herbie Hancock and Horace Silver), Azteca’s Santana-esque “Whatcha Gonna Do,” plus tributes to Escovedo inspirations Tito Puente and Tito Rodriguez.