Jesus Alemany: Malembe

Cuban trumpeter Jesus Alemany, whose 1996 album Cubanismo! was a sizzling and popular project, returns with another fine and fiery album, Malembe (Hannibal 1411; 57:46). Alemany brings together an assemblage of mighty players, including the pianist Alfredo Rodriquez, and the instrumental prowess is firmly in place, but mostly, this music is driven by a powerful groove imperative. Coming out of the Cuban song form tradition of the son, with its emphasis on the trumpet, this music derives its energy from the jam session sensibility, the descarga. Alemany is doing his part in keeping alive the musical fire in and beyond the borders of Cuba, the U.S. neighbor which might seem a world away-that is, until the music kicks in.