Where There’s Fire

Rebeca Mauleón – Latin Fire
Rebeca Mauleón

Latin Fire (Rumbeca Music RM 7777, 2004)

This disc’s unimaginative title does no favors apart from aptly describing the music and possibly providing a clue to potential buyers. But it’ll have to do. Pianist/vocalist/educator Mauleón has long been a fixture on the Latin jazz scene in the San Francisco area and elsewhere, making key contributions to others’ projects and putting out some noteworthy ones of her own.

On Latin Fire she’s joined by a crack crew that includes master conguero Giovanni Hidalgo and ace trumpeter Bill Ortiz for a set of grooves that sway with familiar flavors of rumba, mambo, bomba, plena and salsa while not bowing solely to any one of them.

Leadoff track “Batamambo” comes on pleasingly punchy as do many of the songs, but when the flame is turned down to simmering level, as on “Cuba Hermosa” and “Te Canto Puerto Rico,” the result is smooth in the very best sense of the word.

There’s ample variety and flair here, including “Ritmo Caribeño” tossing in chunks of the rap-like reggaeton style to keep pace with the beat, “La Ventana” sounding like transplanted nuevo flamenco that subs piano for guitar and “CuBrazil” successfully fusing exactly what you’d expect from the name. A choice pick for fans of Latin jazz, Latin music in general and those who appreciate sounds both
warm and hot.

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