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Column: Editor's Picks

by Bruce Polin

Let's get straight into it. Mon Rivera's Forever (TL-13498.10) typifies the laid back style Mon is known for. The tune Conmigo No is haunting. A very unpretentious release with lots of charm. I really like this CD.

Rolando LaSerie's ¡Ay, Se Paso La Serie (TL-13488.10)! The cover tune is great, as is El Cubanito. Not much LaSerie has been reissued, so get it.

Cachao's Latin Jazz Descarga Parts 1 and 2 (Tl-13544.10 & TL-13545.10). Finally released on CD, these important Descarga experiments from the 80s are very hip. His band WalPaTaCa kicks booty. Walfredo de Los Reyes Sr. works overtime here. Get them both.

Celia Cruz's latest, Irrepetible (TL-13590.10), is nothing less than perfect. Produced by Willie Chirino, this release is about 100 times more successful than last year's Azucar Negra. Chirino makes fantastic use of Cruz's lower range — she does some low end grumbling here that cuts right into your stomach. India, you can't touch this.

Descargas at the Village Gate, Vol. 1 (TL-13500.10) was just reissued, which is also good news for Cachao fans. These recordings define the extended jam session.

Mambo dancer Eddie Torres has released Dance City (TL-13593.10), essentially Oscar Hernandez' band which contains a wealth of talent. A dancer's pot of gold. Highly recommended. Don't miss this chance to hear Jimmy Sabater croon.

Those Bobby Valentin reissues from Bronco keep on coming. One of his best sellers has always been La Boda de Ella (TL-13581.10). Fans of Bobby's and, of course, vocalist Cano Estremera's - your time is now.

SAR reissued a second Fernando Lavoy y Los Soneros (TL-13629.10). This is a great record with stylization somewhat reminiscent of the best of Angel Canales. Also from SAR is a top notch charanga from Rafa Y Su Charanga (TL-13634.10), who is, interestingly enough, Colombian. Alfredo De La Fe makes a smokin' guest appearance on this CD.

Larry Harlow's Rumbambola (TL-13538.10), a tremendous production with a couple of dozen musicians, has resurfaced after fifteen years. I call it a salsa symphony. Also a must get is the Harlow produced Orquesta Dicupe (TL-13543.10) (not pictured below). It has the unmistakable Harlow touch (think of Flamboyan, Frankie Dante/Mark Dimond etc.).

Libre is out with Mejor Que Nunca (TL-13479.10) — and that ain't no lie — they are better than ever.

Louie Ramirez and Ray De La Paz were one of New York's most successful collaborative teams. Their split caused quite a sensation. Sabor Con Clase! (TL-13635.10) was their last joint effort (prior to their Otra Noche Caliente reunion). Louie out-does himself on timbales and vibes.

Sexteto Ache's Cuba (TL-13480.10) is a superlative effort that captures the best of the Cuban sound with just a slight gloss. Not like the overproduced and somewhat commercial recent efforts from veteran bands like NG and Van Van.

Salsa Unica, via Puerto Rico, has released Sin Tu Amor No Hay Nada (TL-13573.10). They do a great version of Que Pasa Loco. This is a good straight-up salsa band that has tremendous potential if they can avoid signing with a major label that requires that they give up their chops and makes them sound like a bowl of jello for the teeny-bopper crowd. Lets see what happens.

Eddie Palmieri's Azucar Pa Ti (TL-13633.10), the Sistine Chapel of Latin music, is now on CD. This is a joy to listen and dance to. Palmieri montunos with one hand while soloing with the other. Manny Oquendo is fabulous. Vocals by a very young Ismael Quintana. A must get.

By the way, two additional seminal reissues have surfaced. Cal Tjaders Soul Sauce (TL-13660.10), his biggest seller by far, has been pressed to CD and has three additional cuts not on the LP. Also, Willie Bobo's Spanish Grease and Uno Dos Tres, two of his most popular LPs, are now available on one CD (TL-13607.10) thanks to Verve. The Tjader and Bobo reissues are scheduled for review in our next issue.

Bruce Polin

House Speaker

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