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Hilario Duran: From the Heart

Combining elements of bebop, big-band swing and ideas drawn from virtually the entire history of Afro-Cuban jazz (from Santeria rituals to the present day), Cuban pianist Hilario Duran’s music is charged with flamboyance and displays of technical wizardry, yet leavened with a romanticism that’s lush but never bathetic-he wears his emotions on his fingertips, where they belong, instead of on his sleeve.

D’Rivera is on hand to spice up the proceedings on both alto sax and clarinet, and drummer Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez-another longtime Duran collaborator-lives up to his “special guest” billing with his characteristic blend of polyrhythmic adroitness and indefatigable drive, but the real “guest stars” here are Duran’s own arrangements. He has created ensemble lines that dart, weave and kick themselves forward with off-beat punctuations and sidelong rhythmic proddings so forcefully, and with such graceful angularity, that they sound almost like transcriptions of solos from some long-lost session at Minton’s; his voicings, often seasoned with a strong Ellingtonian flavor, are deep and richly colored.

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