May 1998

Ray Barretto and New World Spirit
Blue Note Records

This is Barretto's fifth release with his ensemble New World Spirit and it doesn't take a back seat to previous outings. The group sounds tight and daring with the emphasis on the jazz component. As long as Barretto is slapping the skins the Latin tinge is there, but this is not about shaking your booty. However, Barretto's own compositions, the funky "Liberated Spirit" and "La Bendicion" are deeply rooted in the music of the barrio. Nice vocal intro and close by Barretto on "La Bendicion." I also like pianist John Di Martino's intelligent solo on this number. Trumpeter and trombonist Michael Philip Mossman, always a strong contributor, composed two of the better tunes, "Moss Code" and "Dance of Denial." His muted trumpet on the standard "Poinciana" is appropriately dreamy. "Caravan" and "The Summer Knows" are the other standards. Trumpeter Ray Vega, who will sometimes alternate on percussion, is heard here exclusively in that role.

Originally published in May 1998
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