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Ray Vega Latin Jazz Sextet: Pa’Lante

Pa’lante (Palmetto) marks Ray Vega’s third outing as a leader, and it shows the lessons he learned working with the legends Tito Puente, Ray Barretto, Mongo Santamaria and Celia Cruz. This group features Vega’s Latin Jazz Sextet with solid support from saxophonist Bobby Porcelli, pianist Igor Atalita, bassist Boris Kozlov, drummer Willie Martinez and conguero Wilson “Chembo” Corniel. They start off with a tasty slice of Cu-bop, Duke Jordan’s “Flight to Jordan,” with its nod to the spiritual “Joshua Fit de Battle of Jericho.” This mambo with a bridge finds Porcelli playing with bite and Atalita laying down a fierce montuno behind the conga solo. Vega plays moody and impressionistic over his own “Miles Away,” and gets a pretty sound on flugelhorn for his lullaby “Melani’s Theme.” There’s an all too brief bata solo on “Primera Oracion,” and a danceable arrangement of Bird’s “Yardbird Suite.” Best of all is the arrangement of Coltrane’s “Acknowledgement” from A Love Supreme. Kozlov’s beautiful arco bass intro leads to some of the most out playing from the horns. It reminds us that much of this music has a spiritual connection.

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