02. 38 1/2 5:16
03. En Nosotros 4:27
04. Juana 1600 5:58
05. Moja El Pan 3:55
06. Este Camino Largo 6:49
07. Xiomara 5:36
08. Iya 5:42
09. Camaguey 5:34
Alto Saxophone – Carlos Emilio Morales, Paquito D'Rivera
Baritone Saxophone, Clarinet – Paquito D'Rivera
Bass, Tuba – Carlos del Puerto
Congas [Tumba] – Jorge Alfonso, Oscar Valdés
Piano, Organ – Chucho Valdés
Drums – Bernardo García
Flute – Carlos Averhoff, Paquito D'Rivera
Guiro, Shekere, Tambourine – Carlos Barbón
Guitar – Carlos Emilio Morales
Percussion – Bernardo García, Carlos Barbón, Jorge Alfonso, Jorge Varona, Oscar Valdés
Soprano Saxophone – Carlos Averhoff, Paquito D'Rivera
Tenor Saxophone, Bass Clarinet – Carlos Averhoff
Timbales [Paila], Bongos, Vocals – Oscar Valdés
Trumpet, Valve Trombone – Jorge Varona
Using multiple covers for the same album is one of EGREM's favorite tricks, but in this case they outdid themselves, releasing two albums, at least 2 years apart, with different numbers (LD-3660 and LD-3926), the same covers, and different tracklists.
It's hard to say why this happened, but when EGREM issued the egregiously under-documented 11-CD La colección, they very unfortunately used LD-3926, calling it Vol. 3, even though most or all of its tracks were recorded and released before the album they called Vol. 2. To further complicate matters, this same series of tracks was released time and time again on a variety of foreign labels, with conflicting dates of course, and many of the tracks are also released on live albums from the same time period, (as well as on studio albums entitled "En vivo"!).
In any case, the song in question, Chékere-son, is an extremely interesting one. It's based on a legendary 1945 Charlie Parker be-bop composition called Billie's Bounce. Almost every phrase of the Parker song can be found in Chekere-son but it's all jumbled together in a very clever and compelling way. David Peñalosa (author of the soon-to-be-released Unlocking Clave) sees the track as a pivotal one - perhaps the first really satisfying fusion of clave and bebop horn lines, a central element of the style of NG La Banda in the early days of timba. The easiest way to obtain Chéquere-son is on the compilation CD of the same name. It also has the rest of the tracks from 3660 except, unfortunately, Juana 1600, another of Irakere's more successful fusions - grafting the batá rhythm Babalú ayé onto another aggressive up-tempo dance grooove.
So much of what I've read about this band focuses on their Grammy-winning North American breakthrough, as if the first time North Americans heard this music was the first time it was really vital and worth listening to. And I do understand that distribution was a different beast in the '70s, but still, it's a little rich to tell everyone that the first album Columbia released by this band is their "best."
Anyway, I bring this up because, in searching for their North American debut, I found, instead, this gem, their second release. (Their North American debut was either their 4th or their 7th, depending on which discography you consult.) And...well, what can I say? This is awesome stuff.
I recently listened to Azymuth, a Brazilian band doing a similar thing (combining local music with contemporary jazz) and was sorely disappointed. Maybe it's me, but this music is far more alive, more more alive and far more "jazz" than that. (I don't mean to spend this whole thing bashing Azymuth, I just think of them as a useful comparison, given their fame.)
This music combines traditional music and Latin Jazz with a healthy dose of James Brown plus Jazz Fusion and other strains of jazz (such as Cool). The sound varies, sometimes drastically, from track to track, with the composer. And it seems like their collective nature has a lot to do with the diversity of this record.
But anyway, the vitality of this stuff is incredible. This is a band that can seemingly do anything and which brings a sense of fun missing from a lot of contemporary jazz.
Just fantastic stuff.