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January/February 2005

Ramon Valle Trio
No Escape
ACT Music + Vision

Before the Cuban revolution, U.S. jazz musicians would regularly play the island's hotels and casinos for the tourists. After hours the Cuban and American musicians would converge on a handful of small clubs for jam sessions. This is where the Cubans could meet and learn from their idols, and U.S. musicians could soak up the local rhythmic lingo.

Ramon Valle is a direct descendant of those after-hours descargas. A graduate of the National School of the Arts in Havana, Valle is equally adept at intensely swinging like Oscar Peterson-but with a groove that reflects the syncopation of the Afro-Cuban clave-playing pop music or reveling in the island's many traditional rhythms. And like any of the pianists who record for ECM, Valle can draw the curtain down around himself and play powerfully introspective music.

Bassist Omar Rodriguez Calvo and drummer Liber Torriente have to be able to swing, play with an avant-garde bite or approximate the energy of a traditional bata drummers' circle. They do so flawlessly on the CD's 11 tracks.

Originally published in January/February 2005
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