Panamericana Suite opens with a tune Paquito D’Rivera wrote for the great Canadian saxophone and flute player, Moe Koffman. “Waltz for Moe” maintains the sentiment of a jazz waltz while incorporating the Colombian/Venezuelan joropo rhythm for Colombian harpist Edmar Castaneda’s solo and a version of the mazurka from Martinique for Andy Narell’s solo. Dizzy Gillespie’s classic composition “Con Alma” is arranged by D’Rivera’s bassist, Oscar Stagnaro. This version draws on rhythms from Stagnaro’s homeland of Peru such as festejo and zamba landó. Stagnaro provides the canvas for the band to truly explore the meaning of “con alma” – with soul. Argentine trumpeter, Diego Urcola, steps in to arrange Roberto Pansera’s “Preludio No. 3,” effectively combining the voice of the bandoneón with the saxophone and trumpet; staying true to the Tango, yet allowing a unique vehicle for improvisation. “Tojo,” written in honor of the great Cuban trombonist, Generoso “El Tojo” Jiménez, features D’Rivera on alto saxophone, Urcola on trumpet, Narell on Steel Pans and Mark Walker on drums. The multi-instrumentalist, Dana Leong, sets aside his cello on this tune and plays trombone. “Tojo” moves from the Cuban rhythms of cha cha cha and bolero to Uruguay’s candombe. The title track, “Panamericana Suite” musically represents the concept of this project. Beginning with a stirring traditional Afro-Cuban chant and bata drumming of Pedro Martinez, this piece travels along a vast musical arc. The listener experiences styles and rhythms from countries throughout the Caribbean, Central and South America including milonga (Argentina); danzón, bembe and cha cha cha; cha cha lokua fun (Cuba); bossa (Brazil); reggae (Jamaica) and joropo (Colombia/Venezuela). As the title implies, D’Rivera’s composition “Fiddle Dreams” was originally commissioned to be performed as a violin feature. In this version, D’Rivera and his trio transform “Fiddle Dreams” into “clarinet dreams” displaying their virtuosity as they seamlessly flow between classical, swing, baião and samba. D’Rivera’s arrangement of Carlos Franzetti’s “Serenade” artfully balances technical ability with the expressive lyricism characteristic of the danza style and ends in the energizing Cuban rhythm, timba. Panamericana Suite closes with “Song for Peace,” a poignant piece composed by D’Rivera that brilliantly features Puerto Rican lyric soprano, Brenda Feliciano. Although truly classical in nature, “Song for Peace” displays undertones of the evocative Tango. This recording expresses the essence of Paquito D’Rivera. From refined classical compositions to swinging jazz, D’Rivera takes the listener on a journey celebrating the multitude of Latin and world rhythms connecting them with the best of jazz and classical traditions.
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