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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

Various Artists

By Robert Kaye
Published January 28, 2008

Latin Jazz

The Putumayo label has long been known for its expertly curated compilations that circumnavigate our musical planet. Latin Jazz highlights leaders of the genre, with Machito, Cannonball Adderley, Poncho Sanchez, Tito 10 Puente, Eddie Palmieri, and their fellow founding fathers all making welcome appearances. Classic tracks such as Puente’s “Cha Cha Cha,” Ray Barretto’s “Summertime” and Machito/Adderley’s “Congo Mulence” grace the album—a lofty salute to this well-established hybrid, which successfully melded harmonically rich American jazz with the complex tropical rhythms of the greater Caribbean. To those more familiar with the genre’s contemporaries (Arturo Sandoval, Irakere, Lazaro Valdés, Gonzalo Rubalcaba and so on), this album may seem a bit tame, but when enjoyed as a tribute to the pioneers of Latin jazz, it’s a fitting homage. To accentuate the point, the album is dedicated to pianist Hilton Ruiz, who died in New Orleans while working on a Hurricane Katrina benefit album.