April 1997

Humberto Ramirez
Canciones de Amor
Tropijazz

This fourth release by trumpeter Humberto Ramirez is a collection of boleros, slow romantic ballads, in which Ramirez plays, produces, arranges and conducts. It's a peculiar project-one that jazz fans may find hard to embrace. The bolero is a tricky form, moving and dramatic in the right hands, Celia Cruz singing "Desencanto," for example, but perilously susceptible to the maudlin. In addition to trumpet, piano, bass, drums, and percussion, there are eight violinists, two violists, two violoncellists, plus assorted instrumentalists. On "Como Fue (How Was It?)," Ramirez breaks free of the bolero mold to play in a jazz vein-a welcome interlude on a release where every tune sounds very much like the next. Pianist Luis Marin and drummer Ignacio Berroa provide solid support here. Ramirez's airy tone and middle register playing have drawn comparisons to Miles Davis. He's picked some of the most famous boleros, "Somos Novios (It's Impossible)," "Historia de un Amor (A Love Story)," "Amar y Querer (Love and Desire)" so fans of the form will probably flock to this release. Jazz listeners, however, will want to wait for Ramirez's next outing.

Originally published in April 1997
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