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Luis Mario Ochoa and Friends: Cimarron

This Latin jazz session, led by Havana native and guitarist-singer-arranger Luis Mario Ochoa, is full of fire, finesse and authenticity. He contributes some tasty nylon-string guitar work on Paquito D’Rivera’s samba “To Brenda With Love” (which features the composer playing a sizzling clarinet solo) and blows a fluent and jazzy solo on his spirited guajira-bembe “Afro-Cuban Chant,” which is reminiscent of Mongo Santamaria’s “Afro Blue.” Ochoa also plays a passionate nylon-string guitar solo on the percolating son “Mestizos” and summons up a lovely, lyrical, warm-toned electric guitar solo on his slow mambo “Bacuranao.”

But this recording is not about killer guitar solos. Ochoa does flaunt some impressive chops, but his primary role here is to weave polished, danceable arrangements for his tight, horn-powered nonet, like his clever son montuno take on “Old Devil Moon,” his swinging guaguanco interpretation of Henry Mancini’s “Days of Wine and Roses” or his energized Cuban-Puerto Rican salsa hybrid “Declaracion de Amor.” On that level, he excels.

Originally Published