Una Noche Con Rubén Blades

Una Noche Con Rubén Blades

Given the significance of Afro-Latin rhythms in jazz’s development, there’s inherent value in a premier repertory ensemble like the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra collaborating with legendary Panamanian singer Rubén Blades. But the delight of this 2014 live performance is hearing the musicians stretch themselves beyond the safety of well-trodden Latin jazz territory. Along with reliably excellent performances of salsa tunes, Blades brings Rat Pack brashness to American standards like “Too Close for Comfort,” “Fever,” and “They Can’t Take That Away From Me.” And in bassist Carlos Henriquez’s arrangements of Blades classics like “El Cantante,” the JALCO shifts between its always-convincing swing and bona fide clave, educating us in the rhythms’ historic connections along the way. After the full orchestra’s sheer sonic force, Blades’ “Patria” is an album highlight, with a scaled-down ensemble of percussionists, bass, and trumpeter Wynton Marsalis backing the singer in stark magnificence.

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