By Jacob Katel
By Karli Evans
By Jose D. Duran
By Pablo Chacon Alvarez
By Kat Bein
By Abel Folgar
By Laurie Charles
Alfredo Naranjo y el Guajeo (Cacao Música)
Venezuelan-born virtuoso vibraphonist Alfredo Naranjo explodes on this disc, backed by the band El Guajeo and a who's-who of contemporary Venezuelan musicians: Pablo Gil, Luz Medina, Luis Toro, David Peña, et al. Here, he explores the Latin jazz arena, peppering it with danceable moments of salsa and culturally rich world sounds, never losing his criollo sang-froid and sense of humor. The 14 tracks are well-realized, and the album packaging (a nice feature from this label) is chock-full of information on the music and musicians featured. The disc is a nice initiation into Afro-Venezuelan sounds and other angles of Latin jazz.
Pan Con Bistec (Ritmo City Records)
This past May 28, I penned a not-so-nice (fine, I was a sarcastic dick) review of Mr. Ramirez's album, Pan con Bistec, based solely on what was probably a factory mistake: There was no CD in the shrink-wrapped package. My bad. However, since it took five months for your camp to redeliver, the drinks-on-you charge sticks. Regardless of all that, the album is some straightforward Latin jazz with nuances of R&B, funk, son, and even a variant on tango. The featured violinist on this recording is the Uruguayan Federico Britos Ruiz, whose bones have been made at the orchestra level throughout the world. This is a fine album by a fine musician with whom I look forward to bar-hopping.
"My Babygirl Got Class" (Straight Jacket/Trackings Productions)
The featured track on this Unique Styles maxi single, bling-bling aside, is a little ode to a classy babygirl (with a sexy ass); it's also a taste of the duo's upcoming album. Featured in this set are both clean and dirty versions of the title track, plus a pair of tracks titled "4 the Party" and "The Club Life." I'll go on a limb and say that I thought the extra songs were a little more fun than the single. But then again, what the hell do I know about anything?