Manny Oquendo and Libre: On the Move (Muevete!)

With this live recording, bandleader/timbalero Manny Oquendo celebrates 50 years in the music business. A legend in his own right, he’s played with such heavyweights as Tito Puente and Israel “Cachao” Lopez, as well as leading the trombone-heavy Libre, one of the hottest bands around. There are four trombonists here, although Libre stalwart Jimmy Bosch is absent. I miss his expressive, cathartic style. Regardless, trombonists Dan Reagan, Papo Vazquez, Wayne Wallace, and Leonard Pollara deliver plenty of monas [tasty trombone solos]. Bassist and musical director Andy Gonzalez provides percussive attack, with a powerful solo on “Muevete.” The opener, the montuno “Chiquilla Ideal,” is loaded with sabor, the trombonists spewing lucid, rhythmic riffs. “No Cuentes” is another beauty. When Oquendo solos on timbales, on “Vengo Sabroso” and “Muevete,” the thunderous style, signature breaks, and spirited use of the cowbell, are fully evident. “Lester Leaps In,” a mambo jazz, and “Oquendo y Libre,” a descarga, are clinkers.