Ray Barretto wasn't fond of his music being labelled 'Latin Jazz' - yet it's hard to argue with the fact that his 1979 CTI album La Cuna stands as one of the most memorable records to come out of this genre, since it wonderfully amalgamates the diverse moods of both Americas. Here the expertise of legendary producer Creed Taylor is combined with an all-star ensemble and the supreme musicality of the skillful jazz percussionist Barretto to create a tightly-knit performance.
The opening title cut sails along merrily with a salsa swing, but then the soaring flute melodies and the powerful piano improvisations cool down the Caribbean rhythms. How the players mingle driving patterns with delicate melodies to form beautiful song is demonstrated best in "Doloroso" and also in "Mambotango," whereby the latter exudes controlled coolness in the somewhat electric mood.
John Tropea leans seemingly intentionally towards Santana and his art of guitar-playing, and this is further enhanced by the late Joe Farrell's phenomenal performance. A further tribute is paid to one of the greatest musicians ever to combine various styles and trends with a speeded-up version of Stevie Wonder's "Pastime Paradise." To conclude: if not Latin Jazz, then definitely Latin AND Jazz. This Speakers Corner production was manufactured in 100% analogue with the use of the original analogue master tapes.
Ray Barretto (conga, percussion)
Joe Farrell (tenor & soprano saxophone, flue)
John Tropea (guitar)
Charlie Palmieri (piano, percussion)
Carlos Franzetti (piano)
Jeremy Wall (synthesizer)
Francisco Centeno (bass)
Steve Gadd / Mark Craney (drums)
Willy Torres (vocals)
Tito Puentes (timbales)