2020 Latin-jazz CD van Spanish Harlem Orchestra o.l.v. Oscar Hernandez. The Spanish Harlem Orchestra have been running under the guidance of pianist/leader Oscar Hernandez for seventeen years, accumulating three Grammy awards and too many festival appearances and accolades to list here. The folk roots of their music reach deep into the African diaspora and its multicultural mingling in the slave colonies of the Caribbean, but the particular iteration they specialise in has a distinctly American accent, growing out of the Latino community in New York as it developed from the prewar Rumba craze through the modernistic Afro-Cuban big bands of visionaries like Machito and into the fusion of Caribbean styles with modern jazz that blossomed in the 1970s with the additional input of the Puerto Rican community Spanish Harlem into the hybrid style known as Salsa. Spanish Harlem Orchestra are working firmly in the tradition of the great 70s labels like Fania and epitomise the enduring strengths of the music: tight, intricate arrangements, with modernistic chord colourings from the super-tight, lushly textured horns over beds of immaculately grooving percussion, thumping bass tumbaos, breathtaking audacious arrangements full of perfectly executed breaks and hits, and flamboyant soloing. There’s an all-star cast of top NYC jazz talent on hand here to spice up the salsa: Bob Mintzer and Tom Harrell provide some top-notch NYC chops, Kurt Elling contributes a somewhat incongruously nocturnal ‘Invitation’, Bob Francheschini adds a touch of the unpredictably outside, Dave Liebman adds his unmistakeably big-toned, adventurously melodic soprano, but the overall standard of playing is so high that it’s impossible to single anyone out. Pure Salsa delight of the highest quality.
1. Ritmo De Mi Gente (4:28)
9. Latin Perspective (4:29)
11. Descarga De Jazz (5:08)
Bob Mintzer, Miguel Zenon, Kurt Elling, Bob Franceschini, Tom Harrell, Jimmy Haslip, Dave Liebman, Jonathan Powell, Michael Rodriguez, Joe Locke, Jermeny Bosch