Live at the Dakota Two
Former Cubanismo pianist and musical director Nachito Herrera returns with a follow-up live recording at Minneapolis’ Dakota Jazz Club in a Latin quartet setting, tearing through originals and revamped standards. Despite some unfortunate technical issues with the recording—including an increasingly out-of-tune piano and poorly recorded percussion that sounds thin and muffled—Herrera’s powerful leadership keeps the audience’s attention during the fury of pounding montunos and cascading lines. Joining Herrera once again are bassist Terry Burns, percussionist Shai Hayo and drummer Gordy Knudtson, with Herrera’s daughter Mirdalys contributing vocals on one of the tracks.
All in all, this is an engaging performance often overshadowed by the inferior mix and aforementioned issues, leading Herrera to perhaps compensate for inadequate sound onstage by surging through tempos and making the band play catch-up. Live recording is a tricky business, and with musicians so often at the mercy of the sound crew, attempting such adventurous speeds doesn’t bode well. Highlights include Burns’ tender and melodic bass work on “Tulipán” as well as Herrera’s probing intro on “Afro 6/8” which floats between McCoy-esque runs and neoclassical chords.
It’s too bad he didn’t get to play them on a decent piano.