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Pete Escovedo: Live!

Pete Escovedo is the elder statesman of the premiere percussive Hispanic family in the U.S. Sheila E, Peter Michael and Juan joined Papi in a San Diego gig and the result is Live! (Concord), the first live recording by the distinguished timbalero in 15 years, released as the label celebrates its 30th anniversary. Trombonist Wayne Wallace’s arrangements display this commanding contemporary Latin big band in a decidedly favorable light. Aside from Cal Tjader’s “Viva Cepeda”-freshly rethreaded with steady danceable heat-the rest of the material is not standard fare among most Latin jazz audiences, although the expected jamming vocal closer “Sonerito” will be familiar to Sonora Poncena followers. All the Escovedos severely castigate their respective instruments. In the extended, meaty “The E Medley…” Juan thankfully relies less on drum rudiments during his appetizing conga soloing, his father does his thing with Puente-like hints and Sheila follows with plenty of nasty depth. As the young-sounding West Coast veterans tightly swing through familiar Latin rhythmic patterns, including the Wallace-led evolution from loving bolero to timba-inflected jam in “Pete Kelly’s Blues,” it is easy to imagine Concord founder Carl Jefferson digging this recording.

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