On October 19, Blue Engine Records will release Una Noche con Ruben Blades, the historic concert that took place in 2014, when Ruben Blades, salsa giant and nine-time Grammy Award winner, got together with Wynton Marsalis for a series of dazzling performances on the Jazz at Lincoln Center Stage.
Directed by Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra’s Carlos Henriquez, the album features Blades and Marsalis performing compositions like “Pedro Navaja,” “Patria,” and “El Cantante,” along with swing classics such as “Too Close for Comfort” and “Begin the Beguine.”
“Jazz is the story of taking old parts and building something new,” says Henriquez. “When Rubén joined us for our performances at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater, we did exactly that using the Great American Songbook and the Afro-Cuban rhythms that propel all the wonderful music that Rubén sang that evening.”
The album contains 14-tracks, and opens with “Ban Ban Quere,” a salsa-flavored jazz number riding a syncopated beat. A sparkling piano, along with blaring horns, infuses the tune with bright accents, as well as depth.
Highlights include the smooth big band energy of “Too Close for Comfort,” featuring a dazzling piano, mellow horns, and a bouncing rhythm. Driven by layers of luminous brass, the sensuous Latin flow of “El Cantante” radiates segments of sumptuous flavors and rambling jazz. Blades’ voice is rich and velvety, full of passionate timbres.
The encore number, “Patria,” starts off with Latin-laced Afrobeats and a delicious clarinet, oozing with light suggestive tones. Blades’ voice is rife with tender hues and nuances of recollection. Probably my favorite tune on the album is “Don’t Like Goodbyes,” a yummy ‘50s-flavored pop tune rife with a silky flow reminiscent of Old Blue Eyes. A gorgeous piano and creamy flourishes from the brass section make the music undulate with sultry swells. The trumpet solo has to be heard to be believed, tight and high-pitched without any stridency at all.
Una Noche con Ruben Blades is superb. If you’re into stellar music, fluent and elegant, then this is the album you’ve been seeking.