Putumayo World Music continues its exploration into the sounds of the Latin diaspora by releasing its first jazz-focused collection. One of the most familiar jazz genres, Latin jazz has achieved global popularity since big bands in the 1940s and 50s started incorporating Afro-Cuban sounds into their arrangements. This mixture of Afro-Cuban rhythms and jazz stylings come together on Latin Jazz, a lively collection of songs by masters of the genre. Latin Jazz features legends Tito Puente, Ray Barretto, Eddie Palmieri and others.
The artists featured on Latin Jazz represent an honored cast of musicians ranging from early pioneers of the genre to those who have helped it remain a viable force for more than 60 years. Machito, a contemporary of Dizzy Gillespie and Duke Ellington, was a pioneering bandleader who helped deepen the bond between Afro-Cuban music and American jazz. Fittingly, his classic track “Congo Mulence” opens the album and features fellow jazz legend Cannonball Adderley. Other legendary figures included on the album are Tito Puente, whose mastery of the timbales combined with old-fashioned showmanship kept his music fresh and relevant over the years, and Eddie Palmieri, whose piano techniques put him in the same league as jazz legends Herbie Hancock, Thelonious Monk and McCoy Tyner. He teams here with Brian Lynch on “Guajira Dubois,” a game of musical tag between Palmieri’s piano and Lynch’s trumpet.
The driving rhythm behind most Latin jazz comes from its powerful percussion, and Latin Jazz showcases some of the finest in this field. Master conguero (congo player) Poncho Sanchez leads one of the most popular Latin jazz groups in the world. His seasoned ensemble contribute the cool energy of “El Sabroson” to the album, while Ray Barrettocovers the classic “Summertime.” Considered the “godfather of Latin jazz,” Barretto was the first Latino to have a Latin hit on the American Billboard Charts.
Other luminaries on the album include Hilton Ruiz, a former child prodigy who appeared at Carnegie Hall at the age of 8, Chocolate Armenteros, the legendary Cuban trumpet player, and Manny Oquendo & Libre, who represent a multigenerational dynasty of Latin music. Icelandic double-bassist Tómas R. Einarsson, and New York icon Chico Alvarez round out the collection.