Afro-Cuban, Kenny Dorham’s second album and his first for Blue Note, captures the trumpeter in early 1955, well on his way to becoming a pivotal figure of the post-bebop era. The first four tracks were issued on 10-inch, but with the addition of three more in 1957, Afro-Cuban took its place in the Blue Note 1500 series as a full-length album. One other Dorham outing, ’Round About Midnight at the Cafe Bohemia, appeared in the 1500 series before Dorham moved to the Riverside label (he didn’t record again for Blue Note until Whistle Stop in 1961). As its title suggests, Afro-Cuban is heavily influenced by Latin rhythm. It features Carlos “Patato” Valdes on congas and Richie Goldberg on cowbell, blending into a richly voiced ensemble with four horns and jazz rhythm section on the initial four tunes. The three added tracks—“K.D.’s Motion,” “La Villa,” and “Venita’s Dance”—omit percussion and shift the focus to straight-ahead swing, subbing in bassist Percy Heath for Oscar Pettiford and giving drummer Art Blakey more room to maneuver. There are moments, on the ballad “Lotus Flower” for instance, where the Latin element might feel a bit tacked on. But on “Afrodisia,” “Minor’s Holiday,” and the Gigi Gryce composition “Basheer’s Dream,” the Afro-Cuban clave rhythm is strong and compelling. Dorham shines as a soloist, as do Hank Mobley (tenor sax), Cecil Payne (baritone sax), and J.J. Johnson (trombone). Pianist Horace Silver, a central architect of the Blue Note aesthetic, lends his distinctive harmonic and rhythmic touch throughout.
 This album is an Apple Digital Master made from a high-definition audio source, designed to cut noise while maximizing clarity and efficiency, bringing you a sound virtually indistinguishable from the original 24-bit studio masters.

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