Local Wire

Arturo Sandoval

After releasing a number of adventurous jazz albums, the Miami-based trumpeter goes back to his roots on this disc, delivering a straightforward collection of original songs that bear an Afro-Cuban feel not far from Buena Vista Social Club turf. Sandoval's trademark high-register playing is not very prominent this time around, but you can hear a fine example in one of the album's best tracks, "El Huracán Del Caribe," in which he shares vocal duties with Cheito Quiñónes Sr. Also notable is "Guaranchando," on which the bandleader almost steps aside to allow percussionists Alexis "Puti" Arce and Tomas Cruz to show their chops. On the beautiful ballad "Peaceful," the band is reduced to a quartet (saxophone, keys, trumpet, and bass), giving Sandoval an opportunity to show his softer side. Overall, Rumba Palace is an unpretentious CD; Sandoval shows that he doesn't have anything to prove to his listeners, allowing us to just kick back and enjoy the music. Jazz purists who expect him to constantly break musical barriers may be slightly disappointed, but those approaching the disc with an open mind are guaranteed to have a great time, as the music remains fresh even after repeated hearings.
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Ernest Barteldes