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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

Various Artists

By Justin Hopper
Published April 24, 2007

Explorations: Classic Picante Regrooved
Concord Picante

It seems odd that it’s taken this long for the north-meets-south sounds of Concord Picante artists to get the remix treatment. After all, Picante artists like Tito Puente and Mongo Santamaria formed the foundation for modern DJs like Snowboy, Little Louie Vega and others’ journeys into Latin house and other contemporary dance-floor sounds. In many cases on Explorations, the wait seems well worth it. Cut Chemist’s reworking of Tito Puente’s “Machito Forever,” with insistent drones and tough hip-hop beats beefing up Puente’s tight horns and clambering percussion, is the highlight. Other big-name remixes, from Thievery Corporation’s chilled, downtempo take on Ray Barretto to Dan The Automator and Lyrics Born hamming up “Watermelon Man,” come across as fresh while still honoring the originals’ musical intent. Despite a few yawn-inducing cuts sprinkled here and there, this is generally a loving and vigorous look back at some of Latin jazz’s most vivacious music.