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Sheila E., Pete Escovedo, Tito Puente, Latina Familia Video

Review: Choice Cuts

by Angel Cruz

Latina Familia is truly a Latin Jazz extravaganza at it's best, as exemplified by the guest stars— legendary bandleader Tito Puente and the attractive singer and percussionist Sheila E.— who trade timbale solos during Eddie Palmieri's composition Revolt In "Cell Block 2." Pete Escovedo's band is superb.

One of my favorite numbers is Ray Barretto's "La Cuna," where Rebeca Mauleon breaks into a striking piano solo, sounding similar to Puente's pianist Sonny Bravo. Rebeca has performed with the likes of Shades of Jade, Santana, Batachanga and many other Latin greats. She has also recorded on Puente's Salsa Meets Jazz, and Un Poco Loco for the Concord Jazz label.. Pete's sharp timbale solo is another treat, as is Bill Ortiz's flaring trumpet work. Sheila closes this number with an extended and very impressive conga solo which earns her an overwhelming standing ovation.

The percussion members of the band show unique versatility — in addition to Afro-Cuban rhythms they play some exotic Brazilian percussion instruments. This adds an authentic Brazilian tinge to the laid-back jazz samba "Brasiliero." "Yesterdays Memories, Tomorrow's Dreams" features the mellow and delicate side of Puente's exquisite style on the vibraphone.

The concert reaches it's peak with the tune "El Rey Del Timbale." Pete invites his son from the audience to sit in on percussion as Pete, Sheila, and Tito team up to play simultaneously, side by side, on Tito's array of timbales. They maintain speed and style with outstanding precision as they're spotlighted on this powerful performance that garners another well deserved standing ovation.

The concert come to a close with an explosive number, "Soneros Del Los Toredos." This cut begins with an outstanding trombone solo by Wayne Wallace. It immediately leads into a timbale duel. Puente breaks in with a six piece timbale set, demonstrating his dynamic and incomparable style. Sheila is equally dynamic as she responds with extraordinary speed and timing, heavily supported by Rebeca's steady, hard-driving piano rhythm.

This video is a must for Latin Jazz afficionados and Latin percussion enthusiasts.

Latina Familia

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