12 Songs, 1 Hour 6 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

The bridge from Havana to New York City has been crossed by countless musicians; pianist Manuel Valera did it himself in 1994. Here on his seventh album, he again focuses on blending Afro-Cuban rhythms with modern electric jazz. Starting things with a bang, “Chamber Timba” has a dazzling energy paired with knotty passages that would keep any dancer on his or her toes. While Valera is the kind of bandleader and composer who leaves a lot of room for his band to shine (particularly guitarist Tom Guarna and saxophonist Yosvany Terry), he does step to the foreground, notably on the tricky “Chennai Express” (with its 11/4 time signature) and the brief solo piece “Intro to Isabelita” (which precedes the main piece, a near-perfect blend of jazz fusion and Afro-Cuban drumming). Giving the listener brief respites, the soft cha-cha-cha of “Perception” and the bolero “La Gloria Eres Tu” reveal a softer side. Suffice to say, it'll be hard to find a better blend of modern jazz and Afro-Cuban clave anytime soon.

EDITORS’ NOTES

The bridge from Havana to New York City has been crossed by countless musicians; pianist Manuel Valera did it himself in 1994. Here on his seventh album, he again focuses on blending Afro-Cuban rhythms with modern electric jazz. Starting things with a bang, “Chamber Timba” has a dazzling energy paired with knotty passages that would keep any dancer on his or her toes. While Valera is the kind of bandleader and composer who leaves a lot of room for his band to shine (particularly guitarist Tom Guarna and saxophonist Yosvany Terry), he does step to the foreground, notably on the tricky “Chennai Express” (with its 11/4 time signature) and the brief solo piece “Intro to Isabelita” (which precedes the main piece, a near-perfect blend of jazz fusion and Afro-Cuban drumming). Giving the listener brief respites, the soft cha-cha-cha of “Perception” and the bolero “La Gloria Eres Tu” reveal a softer side. Suffice to say, it'll be hard to find a better blend of modern jazz and Afro-Cuban clave anytime soon.

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