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Best of Irakere
     

The Best of Irakere

by Irakere
 
Afro-Cuban music in America was frozen in time -- in 1959, the year of the Cuban Revolution, to be exact -- when a series of slick negotiations brought the Cuban fusion band Irakere to Columbia Records, and, briefly, to America in the late '70s. Led by the brilliant pianist and composer Chucho Valdes and including alto saxophonist

Overview

Afro-Cuban music in America was frozen in time -- in 1959, the year of the Cuban Revolution, to be exact -- when a series of slick negotiations brought the Cuban fusion band Irakere to Columbia Records, and, briefly, to America in the late '70s. Led by the brilliant pianist and composer Chucho Valdes and including alto saxophonist Paquito D'Rivera and trumpeter Arturo Sandoval -- both of whom would defect from Cuba and the band within the next decade -- Irakere was a perfect blend of jazz soloing and Afro-Cuban rhythmic panache, with an effective undercoating of funk. This 74-minute set, including five pieces from each of their two Columbia albums, IRAKERE and IRAKERE 2, bubbles over with energy, particularly on the live tracks. Included is Valdess' beautiful 17-minute "Misa Negra (The Black Mass)" and D'Rivera's take on a Mozart adagio. Irakere still survives in Havana, but they never got over the loss of their two hotshot hornmen, now American citizens.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Richard S. Ginell
For Latin jazz fans, this is a succinct and nearly complete roundup of Irakere's two North American albums, a brief peek through Cuba's door before politics slammed it shut again for another generation. Irakere is represented by four tracks, including the lengthy, uncut "Black Mass," and Irakere II by six tracks. The live Irakere was an exciting breakthrough, a real advance in the alliance between Afro-Cuban and American jazz that took into account the electronic developments in music since politics isolated Cuba from the U.S. Irakere II, a studio product, is not nearly as startling; the sound and arrangements are slicker, there are strings and voices on some cuts, super-trumpeter Arturo Sandoval was encouraged to show off his pretty tone as well as his fire, and the Cubans even tried to churn out a disco beat on some tracks, negating all of those wild, wonderful Afro-Cuban cross rhythms. Still, there are passages where the more commercially motivated grooves take off, as in the central section of "Ciento Anos De Juventud," and "Xiomara" is a killer in the old Cuban tradition. Interestingly, when Irakere made their belated American comeback at the Playboy Jazz Festival at Hollywood Bowl in 1996, some of their innovative edge was gone, replaced by overt attempts to get the crowd up on their collective feet. All the more reason to cherish this CD -- which has become the only option one has to sample this Cuban band at or nearly at their peak.

Product Details

Release Date:
03/01/2008
Label:
Sbme Special Mkts.
UPC:
0886972503622
catalogNumber:
725036
Rank:
30507

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Irakere   Primary Artist
Paquito D'Rivera   Saxophone
Arturo Sandoval   Trumpet
Chucho Valdés   Piano
Carlos Averhoff   Flute,Saxophone
Carlos Morales   Guitar
Enrique Pla   Drums
Oscar Valdés   Percussion,Vocals
Jorge Varona   Trumpet
Jorge Alfonso   Percussion
Armando Cuervo   Percussion
Carlos del Puerto   Bass,Guitar
Oscar Valdez   Percussion,Vocals
Carlos Emilio Morales   Guitar

Technical Credits

Paquito D'Rivera   Arranger
Chucho Valdés   Arranger
Michael Berniker   Producer
Bert de Coteaux   Producer
Allen Weinberg   Art Direction
Nedra Olds-Neal   Producer,Reissue Producer
Paul M. Martin   Artwork
Robin A. Vazquez   Liner Notes

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