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Iguazu: Iguazu

Led by composer/guitarist Rick Howard, the five-piece ensemble Iguazu offers hooky rhythmic Latin-derived tunes with a hint of desert southwest on an eponymously titled effort (Logarto Records 2697; 65:08). From the light-tempoed, soaring “Chasing the Bearded Dragon” to the tricky-timed rock distortion of “Iguana Man,” Howard’s considerable range as a lead guitarist is prominently displayed. On the band’s best work here, exotic percussion and intriguing settings lend support. “The Hedonist,” for example, couches Howard’s fast circular doodling in Latin mood-swinging percussion by Berardo Ramirez, adding a vibes-like feel for a party atmosphere. “Amazonia” mixes distortion guitar with layers of percussion for a romantic, James Bond-goes-to-the-jungle setting. Less successful pieces like “When Bongo Sleeps” suffer by comparison from tired rhythms and outdated-sounding dramatic keyboard hits.

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