Condensing 25 years worth of stellar Latin music down into just 4 discs had to be a tough prospect, but the compilers of the Concord Picante 25th Anniversary Collection have done an excellent job. They’ve plucked some of the tastiest morsels and arranged them in chronological order. Sometimes this method is not the best, but getting to hear the evolution of the label and the music is a nice touch here.
The Picante label began existence with a release by a true heavyweight in Cal Tjader and one of its songs, “Mambo Mindoro”, appropriately begins this collection. Tjader was tireless in promoting the music he loved and Picante has done likewise. It’s not just one style either. There’s the bossa nova guitar wizardry of Charlie Byrd. The torrid vocals of Tania Maria are a highlight. The Picante label was quick to sign legends like Tito Puente and Mongo Santamaria with some great mambo and boogaloo tracks representing them spread across the 4 discs. Just those names alone should make a Latin jazz fan want this anthology.
But there’s more, much more. One of Picante’s great discoveries; Poncho Sanchez has 9 songs included. Ray Barretto, Laurindo Almedia, and Chick Corea make the collection. There’s an intriguing Caribbean Latin crossover cut by Monty Alexander. There is also one cut by the new breed of Latin superstars, Ozomatli, showing where the future is headed.
You get a lot of music with the Concord Picante 25th Anniversary Collection; there’s almost 5 hours of music just aching to be played at your next Latin themed party, although a party is not absolutely necessary to enjoy the music within. 25 years worth of Picante releases distilled down to 4 discs whets the appetite for more. I look forward to hearing what will make the 50th anniversary collection.