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Ray Barretto: Time Was – Time Is

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For his latest CD Ray Barretto fields a crack lineup of New York City jazzers in young alto-sax star Myron Walden, pianist Robert Rodriguez, bassist Sean Conly, trumpeter Joe Magnarelli and drummer Vince Cherico. Veteran percussionist and Afro-Cuban historian Bobby Sanabria adds authentic flavor to the Cuban lullaby “Drume Negrita,” Conly’s infectious dance hall number “Palladium Nights” and a dramatic 12/8 reading of the gospel classic “Motherless Child.”

Barretto keeps everything firmly rooted in the clave while letting his young charges stretch on spirited Latin-jazz offerings like “Murmullo” and Magnarelli’s exhilarating, hard-bop-inflected “Mags.” Walden, an outstanding soloist throughout, contributes the lyrical and buoyant “The View From Here”(on which he plays soprano sax) and the pensive title track. Other highlights here include the romantic danzon “Syracuse,” a nice vehicle for Magnarelli’s lyrical flugelhorn playing and Barretto and Magnarelli’s dynamic, swinging, Horace Silver-ish closer “Caper for Chris”-the only song on the album not informed by the clave.