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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

Nelson “Flaco” Padron Featuring Paquito Hechavarria

By Michael Stone
Published March 16, 2007

Música Original de Cuba
Empire Musicwerks 829


From the glory days of Cuban dance music, drummer-percussionist Nelson “Flaco” Padron (heard of late on Univisión’s Sábado Gigante) and pianist Paquito Hechavarria explore the popular songbook, Latin style, from Bernstein-Sondheim showtunes (“María”) to Kurt Weill (“Speak Low), Antonio Carlos Jobim (Meditaçao), Luiz Bonfá (“Samba de Orfeo”), Johnny Mercer (“Laura”), Rodgers and Hart (“The Lady Is a Tramp”), some standards (“On Green Dolphin Street,” “Whatever Lola Wants”), and a trio of sizzling mambos. Then, inexplicably, the mood changes with several “bonus” tracks on which neither of the headliners appears. Cuban bandleader Luis Santi and conga king Carlos “Patato” Valdés knock out “Cambia el paso” and “El de la rumba soy yo,” followed with a brief if formidable essay on Afro-Cuban percussion by the inimitable Lázaro Plá, “Manteca.” This undated, schizophrenic reissue from the Sonotone catalogue could do with something more explanatory than the two brief paragraphs of album notes provided.