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Paquito D’Rivera: Live at the Blue Note

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This remote recording at New York City’s Blue Note club captures a unique moment in the career of Paquito D’Rivera, one of the premier reed stylists of the last 30 years. With Dario Eskenazi (piano), Diego Urcola (trumpet), Oscar Stagnero (bass), Mark Walker (drums), Pernell Saturnino (percussion) and special guest Oriente Lopez (flute), Paquito rips the curtain open with “Curumim,” a burning Brazilian samba. Gone are the piercing high register shrills that once characterized his solos. Now, the Havana-born alto/soprano/clarinet player digs in with a mellower bebop attack that weaves fascinating lyrical stories.

“El Cura (The Preacher)” is a Latin-funk jam with the vitality of a Cannonball Adderley Quintet. The head is melodic, the rhythmic foundation solid and imaginative solos in a language everybody can understand. From tangos (“Buenos Aires”) to boleros (“Como Un Bolero”), D’Rivera shows how these Latin American forms possess jazz feeling. But it’s the Lopez original “Centro Havana” that grooves with a Cuban songo beat; it also lets Corcao’s Pernell Saturnino loose on congas for a superb, hard-hitting romp. Kudos to Aura Sonic Ltd. for putting us in a front row seat with nicely balanced mix.