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Jazz, meet Latin

Putumayo Presents Latin Jazz
Putumayo Presents Latin Jazz
By various artists

Putumayo World Music: 2007

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This review first appeared in Turbula in July 2007.

Jazz and Afro-Caribbean traditions have been mixing almost from the beginning of jazz's birth in New Orleans a century ago. Musicians from the Spanish-speaking isles of Cuba and Puerto Rico took to jazz's improvisation almost immediately, with a blossoming during the Big Band era of Latin jazz that continues today.

Putumayo, the New York-based world music outfit famed for its bright covers and very cool themed compilations, has most recently turned its attention to Latin jazz, and it's a cracking good collection.

No single disc could possibly provide a comprehensive overview of Latin jazz, but Putumayo's collections never aim for academic credential, anyway. When you have 10 tracks taking in artists ranging from Machito to Tito Puente, Poncho Sanchez to Manny Oquendo, Eddie Palmieri to Ray Barretto, well, you're not going to go far wrong.

Go wrong this disc rarely does, instead providing a wonderful introduction to the music – from tracks that are mostly Afro-Caribbean to mainstream jazz with a Latin sheen. This isn't a disc you buy because you want to have some Latin jazz around the house; you buy this disc, and you're going to be out spending your hard-earned coin on other albums by the above artists and more.

And you'll not regret a single cent of it.