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Paquito D’rivera & Quinteto Cimarrón: Aires Tropicales

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This disc features works by Paquito D’Rivera as well as a variety of other Cuban composers; it testifies to the saxophonist/clarinetist’s ongoing love for the rich (and too often underappreciated) Cuban classical-music tradition. He is complemented by Quinteto Cimarrón, a string quintet consisting of Cuban expats now living in Spain.

The music here, though recognizably “classical,” is characterized by an unforced meld of diverse traditions and genres. In “Wapango,” for instance, the second movement of D’Rivera’s Aires Tropicales suite, contrapuntal passages intermingle with elements of call-and-response, befitting the Afro-European cultural collusion on display. D’Rivera’s clarinet blends seamlessly with the strings; when he finally solos, he adds a bluesy tinge with his slurs and bends. The fourth movement, “Afro,” is likewise enlivened by counter-rhythms and textured layers that reflect the Africanist theme of the title, even as its melodic and harmonic conceits hew closely to standard European

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