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Chico Freeman and Guataca: Oh, By the Way

On Oh, By the Way…, multireeds master Chico Freeman puts a different spin on Afro-Cuban jazz by extending its boundaries to include hip-hop, flamenco and R&B grooves. While this sort of blending isn’t a first, Freeman does succeed in assimilating the various idioms with mostly compelling results.

Drummer Terreon Gully’s hard, edgy funk rhythms underline and coalesce wonderfully with percussionists Pibo Marquez and Chembo Corniel’s interlocking polyrhythms, while Avery Sharpe’s sturdy bass lines give the compositions additional propulsion. Hilton Ruiz’s sparse piano accompaniments are at once percussive and pliant. Oftentimes, he seems to completely disappear from the songs, but once Ruiz reenters, his presence takes the music to new heights.

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