The large amount of releases issued this year might have more to do with late 2008 projects moving into 2009. Nevertheless, there is good music emerging in 2009 that will have staying power.
Mario Ortiz, one of my favorite trumpeters and arrangers of all time, celebrates his 45th musical anniversary with an all-star band and special guests Cheo Feliciano, Andy Montañez, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Richie Ray, Tito Allen, Tony Vega, Bobby Valentín, Elías Lopes, Adalberto Santiago, Chico Rivera, Bobby Cruz, Pedro Brull, Primi Cruz, Anthony Cruz, Ismael Rivera Jr., Roberto Roena, Papo Lucca, Ismael Miranda and Mario Ortiz, Jr.
Los Angeles was treated to an awesome weekend with the appearance of the Latin Giants of Jazz (LGJ) at the 2009 NAMM Convention and at The Mayan, where they rocked the house and introduced their smoking new CD, Ven Baila Conmigo (Come Dance with Me), presenting their new singer, Cita Rodriguez, capable of fitting right in with these LGJ stars. The CD has 13 great tracks, with an array of interesting compositions penned by Héctor Rivera, Nick Jiménez, Isidro Infante, Raúl Marrero, Ray Santos, and others.
Tony Rojas' Introducing Tony Rojas and El Chino Divino are reissued collections of salsa classics popularized by the former vocalist of the Johnny Colón Orchestra and the co-leader of the TNT Band (along with Tito Ramos). Props to Derek Cartagena and Combo Records, who will be releasing the two remaining recordings of Colón's orchestra, as well as Los Hermanos López and the New Generation.
Another reissue, now titled Back Again, is that of the veteran conguero Willie Pastrana's rare classic Orquesta Willard, originally released by Parnaso (his brother Joey's label). It features such legendary musicians as Mike Guagenti, Roy Román, Bobby Nelson, Bobby Rodríguez, Charlie Rodríguez. Paquito Pastor, José Mangual Jr., Shep Pullman, Manny Corchado, and Tony Pastrana.
Jimmy Sabater Jr. is putting a nice project together, fronting his band, Los Salseros del Hudson. It features his father (singing on a few tracks, including his classic Malambo), and the veteran Julio Salgado, plus the new talents of Liz Soto (on the Sonora Ponceña gem Se Formó, formerly a Yolanda Rivera standard).
Pianist Joseph Diamond, one of the brightest talents in Latin jazz, died suddenly last August, but left us the CD Keep Your Dreams, one of the year's best recordings, full of his unique energy. You can appreciate, right from the start of...