Latin Jazz Orchestra: Havana Blues

Havana Blues pairs veteran composer/conductor/arranger Chico O’Farrill with the Rodríguez-Rendún Latin Jazz Orchestra for a second recording of vintage Latin jazz. While there are no surprises, this cd reveals big band Latin jazz at its most exuberant. Armando Rodríguez and Victor Rendún met at the University of North Texas in the ’70s, and put the band together in New York City after each spent a decade as sidemen. Included in the lineup are some of the New York latin scene’s most celebrated players, such as bassist Andy Gonzalez and trumpeter Victor Paz.

The two band leaders and Chico O’Farrill add their own compositions to those written by a healthy assortment of Latin and jazz artists, such as Chick Corea’s “Guajira,” Augustin Lara’s “Palabras de Mujer,” and Jimmy Rowles’ “The Cobra.” Horace Silver’s “Where You At?” yields nicely to the clave and gives Arturo O’Farrill’s rock steady montuno some legroom. “Havana Blues” harks back to the Palladium days in the ’50s, when the word “fusion” had nothing but good connotations.