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Paquito D’Rivera and The United Nation Orchestra: Live at MCG

Formed in 1988 by Dizzy Gillespie, since 1993 the United Nation Orchestra has been directed by Paquito D’Rivera, who, besides being one of its chief soloists on alto, soprano and clarinet, has also extended the group’s repertoire so as to include a wider variety of Latin American and Caribbean rhythms than most stateside listeners have previously been aware of. On this live session at the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, for example, are examples of the Uruguayan candombie (Diego Urcola’s “Tocache”), the New Orleans street beat (Mike Ponella’s “King Of Cancun”), the Cuban bolerozon (Emiliano Salvador’s “Puerto Padre”), the Brazilian bai o (Claudio Roditi’s “Recife’s Blues”), the Cuban danzon (Paquito’s “Memories”) and the Puerto Rican bomba yuba (William Cepeda’s “Groove For Diz”). In addition, we also hear a virtuosic clarinet and bass duo performance of a medley of themes from Ernesto Lecuona’s Andalucia Suite, Conrad Herwig’s powerful, straight-time “Quasi Modal,” Pucho Escalante’s “Desposa” in Afro Cuban 6/8 and Michael Mossman’s swinging chart on “A Night In Tunisia.”

Other Latino soloists besides Paquito are tenorman Andres Boiarsky, trumpeter Diego Urcola and pianist Dario Eskenazi from Argentina, Peruvian bassist Oscar Stagnaro, Puerto Rican trombonist and shell-blower William Cepeda and, from Curacao, percussionist Pernell Saturnino, while from more northern climes we commend trumpeter Mike Ponella, trombonist Conrad Herwig, sopranist Scott Robinson, baritonist Marshall McDonald, guitarist Fareed Haque and drummer Mark Walker for their efforts in the reigning post-loop and fusion idioms. Although certainly not to everyone’s taste, there is no doubting the excellence of the musicianship involved and the appealing diversity of the rhythms employed.

Originally Published