Pianist and composer Manuel Valera is not interested in the usual Latin licks over post-bop beats, but in the shape of cubano jazz to come. On his new CD, Forma Nueva, he's joined by the adventuresome John Patitucci on bass and rim shot master Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez on drums, among others. A handful of Latin references, carefully chosen, subtly lie in wait, like a young lion, to pounce on you. Case in point: "Displaced," where a Bill Evans-y antiseptic motif is, with a turn of a chord, accosted by a hot and heavy guaguanco, cowbell and all, thanks to "El Negro." Valera negotiates the change well, showing and proving that he can heat it up with the best.
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