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Septeto Rodriguez: Baila! Gitano Baila!

Roberto Rodriguez returns to Tzadik’s Radical Jewish Culture fold with Baila! Gitano Baila!, the follow-up to 2002’s El Danzon de Moises. In addition to Curtis Hasselbring’s trombone and Matt Darriau’s occasional “trompeta china” (a reed instrument, in fact), the album features Rodriguez’s father, Roberto Luis Rodriguez, on trumpet, bombardino (euphonium) and valve trombone. The younger Rodriguez fronts a slightly smaller group this time, but still puts forth a scintillating mix of brass, reeds and strings, and a provocative take on Cuban and Jewish musics. Ted Reichman plays not only accordion but also Hammond B3 organ; Meg Okura and Sam Bardfeld are on violins, Mary Wooten on cello, Brad Jones on bass. As the title track suggests, there is an emphasis on Latin dance rhythms, but with a distinctively Jewish mournfulness in some of the melodies-particularly “Marranos y Conversos” and “Sosua la Bella.” Rodriguez’s gift, in addition to grooving like a fiend, is his ability to write in such a richly folkloric vein: all the pieces are original except for the closing jam on Naftule Brandwein’s “Turkish-Bulgarish.”

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