Nortec Collective, Blue Sueños, Sounds Eclectico, Ozomatli, Chucho Valdés, Bebo Valdes, Paquito D'Rivera, and Mercedes Sosa
Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, Fri., Sept. 23, 2005
New Orleans brass hop turns into Ensenada border pop on Nortec Collective's Tijuana Sessions Vol. 3 (Nacional), ripe with trumpet, tuba, and hooks: "Tijuana Makes Me Happy" y "Dandy del Sur." Accordion narrates the story, electrical aids signing the entire performance, from pachyderm parades and ground yerba buena in your mojito to a guest appearance by Calexico. Members of the collective put in a cameo on one of two new KCRW-sponsored cocktails: Blue Sueños (Meta), organic, cyber tronica from the likes of Bill Laswell, Lhasa, and, eh, Buckethead, sampled by the L.A. frequency's Liza Richardson. Curated by name brand colleague Nic Harcourt, Sounds Eclectico (Nacional) is sexier 16 in-studio live recordings from the meatiest Latin Beaters: Café Tacuba, Julieta Venegas, Omara Portuondo, Kinky, El Gran Silencio, Aterciopelados, and the King of the Bongo himself, Manu Chao. Ugly artwork by Beck. Electico's rapping Ozomatli are Live at the Fillmore (Concord), the lithe, lively, and sincerely Spanglish audio running 50 minutes and the unedited DVD, tightly shot inside the L.A. collective's pan-Latin slipstream, flowing 76, clarinet solo et al. Two overlong hours of talking heads will make yours nod during the "Latin Jazz Founders" latest DVD entry, Chucho Valdés Featuring Irakere (MVD), featuring far more of the early-Seventies Yoruban dance juggernaut than its actual architect, Valdés. Let the music do the talking and Chucho perform the piano miracles. Said Cuban king's first piano teacher, papa Bebo Valdés, continues staying busy well into his 80s, Bebo de Cuba (Suite 54) splitting into the big band island romance of "Suite Cubana" and the intimate and electric "El Solar de Bebo" CD. The third disc, "New York Notebook," a 23-minute DVD documentary, holds its own against the first two. Gracing both Irakere and the senior Valdés' recent projects, Paquito D'Rivera conducts elegance on The Jazz Chamber Trio (Chesky), NYC's longtime Cuban expatriot/clarinetist/alto saxophonist weaving Ravelian exotica around the intimate classicism of Israeli pianist Alon Yavnai and cellist Mark Summer. "A Night in Tunisia," docking in Cuba, Mexico, France, Argentina, and Brazil. Finally, Mercedes Sosa, Corazón Libre (Deutsche Grammophon), the proud, stately voice of Argentina, flies closer to the ground on this stirring set of musical verse, heavy with South American heart, weightless with folk embossing. As the grand dame says, "La Canción es Urgente."