Paquito D'Rivera

With the performances that compose Big Band Time, Cuban alto saxophonist and clarinetist Paquito D'Rivera offers his listeners a chance to hear arrangements of previously recorded material for that most powerful of jazz ensembles, the big band -- in this case the WDR Big Band Cologne.

This revisiting of material is both a happy and an unhappy idea. As interesting as it is to hear large-scale versions of pieces like "Song for Maura," "To Brenda with Love," "Danza Caracteristica," and others that D'Rivera has recorded in the past with other, smaller groups, it would have been wiser for him to give the time and space to newer compositions. One good thing, however, is that we get to hear new improvisations from the likes of trumpeter Claudio Roditi, bassist Oscar Stagnaro, and, of course, Paquito, who comes through as fluid and eloquent as ever. The highlight of Big Band Time is the rendition of Ernesto Lecuona's danza "Y la Negra Bailaba," which Paquito plays on clarinet while accompanied by Stagnaro and Pernell Saturnino on small percussion. In this particular performance, Stagnaro provides surprisingly complete support with an impressive blend of bass and guitar techniques.

Although not a landmark recording for D'Rivera, Big Band Time is an enjoyable work for his listeners and a good addition to an already impressive discography.

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