Bronx-born Latino ‘Little’ Louie Vega teamed up with Venezuelan percussion maestro Luisito Quintero on the ground-breaking Nuyorican Soul project nearly ten years ago, and this rhythm-soaked recording takes the union in a whole new direction.
This is a musical journey that takes in all kinds of musical tourist attractions — Afrobeat, bossa nova, Latin jazz and soul amongst them. It opens with two short, polyrhythmic percussion pieces, then bursts into life with a Latin-tinged funky nine-minute version of Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti’s Gbagada, Gbagada, Gbogodo, Gbogodo — all blasting horns, driving drums and call-and-response vocals.
Another major contributor to the Nuyorican Soul album was jazz pianist Hilton Ruiz, who tragically died after a fall earlier this year. His exuberant playing lights up a highly charged salsa/Latin jazz hybrid Quintero’s Jam. He also features on a cover of Tito Puente’s Four Beat Mambo, with a more downbeat Cuban piano-playing style exuding Buena Vista charm behind some eccentric drumming by Quintero.
There is another cover version of a Cuban star, Ray Barretto’s Acid being driven along by some heavy tumbao beats, with some superb bass from Rubén Rodriguez. His handiwork is a key component throughout the CD, providing a steady beat around which all the other instruments interact.
There are a couple of weak moments. Our Love features Cape Verdean chanteuse Anane, but there’s none of the sodade associated with those islands, just bland MOR lounge jazz, and Love Remains The Same featuring Blaze ventures too close to the generic nondescript melodic meandering of the worst of recent Stevie Wonder recordings.
Overall, though, this is a great showcase for Luisito Quintero’s virtuoso percussion style, ably supported by a whole host of Latin music’s top talents.
This review was first published on Fly:-