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December 2003

Paquito D'Rivera
Big Band Time
Pimienta Records

Paquito D'Rivera continues to amaze, adding to his impressive discography of bilingual excitement, this time fronting the WDR Big Band of Cologne on Big Band Time (Pimienta). The eight brass, five reeds and rhythm section of the WDR ensemble, ever evolving over its 50-year history, responds to the Cuban-born, Apple-based D'Rivera as if it plays every night in Havana. Much of the credit goes to its conductor, Bill Dobbins, who contributed half of the 10 arrangements, as well as to D'Rivera for his six originals and to guests trumpeter/flugelhornist Claudio Roditi, electric bassist Oscar Stagnaro, drummer Mark Walker and percussionist Pernell Saturnino.

In spite of Pimienta's screwed-up track titles and timings, the album is magnificent. Highlights: the duologue between Walker and Saturnino on "Annette's for Sure"; the warmth of Roditi's muted tone on "Como un Bolero"; the intensity of the cutting session between D'Rivera (alto sax) and Olivier Peters (tenor) on "A Lo Tristano"; the surprising excerpts from Bach on "To Brenda With Love"; the contrapuntal conversation between acoustic bassist John Goldsby and electric bassist Stagnaro on, what else, "Basstronaut"; and the witty references to "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" on, what else, "Who's Smokin'?"

Originally published in December 2003
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