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May 2000

Sylvia Cuenca
The Crossing
Etoile

Sylvia Cuenca's resume runs from the Vienna Art Orchestra to Clark Terry's drummer of choice. Her impressive drive coupled with finesse has brightened numerous bandstands, though due in part to jazz's stilted sexual politics her skills aren't as widely recognized as they deserve. To document her work as a bandleader she seized the moment herself and went the independent, Internet sales route for The Crossing. From the jump she is crisply swinging, riding the wave of John McNeils' crisp arrangement of Joe Henderson's "Granted" at the helm of a meaty sextet that boasts saxophonists Vincent Herring and Seamus Blake, and trumpeter Eddie Henderson, Messengers-style. Cuenca's pen asserts itself via her richly harmonic tribute "The Crossing," in memory of pianist Mercedes Rossy. Proving again that his music is a touchstone for the 30-something generation, Shorter is here courtesy of the enduring beauty of "Infant Eyes" and the lesser-known "Oriental Folk Song." Ms. Cuenca is a major league percussionist. (Available via www.jazzcorner.com/cuenca.html.)

Originally published in May 2000
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