In the nearly two decades of its existence, the Spanish Harlem Orchestra has come to be regarded as one of the most important contemporary Latin music ensembles in existence today. There is a very good reason for this and it does not only have to do with being recognised by three Grammy Awards [although that helps]. The Orchestra – fronted by the inimitable composer, arranger and pianist Oscar Hernández – is a potent musical force, generating near-atomic energy when it performs – in the studio and on stage. However its seventh album, The Latin Jazz Project, released in May 2020, comes with a slight twist and the epic story of seemingly a lifetime in performing music across the globe, teaming up with a galaxy of superstars every so often.

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The musicians of the Spanish Harlem Orchestra are on the top of their game throughout and they negotiate these breathtaking charts  with plenty of intuitive cohesion. Despite its size and the fact that soli abound, the ensemble operates as a partnership of equals with each member of the group exploiting his technique, expression and feeling – which, in turn, brings deeply interiorised readings to all the material. The compositions themselves supply the Spanish Harlem Orchestra and its guests with a cornucopia of dancing melodies, insistent and energetic rhythms, and edifying harmonic concepts. Naturally the makes for many memorable moments woven into a diaphanous sonic fabric made up of the most spectacular musical texture. The guest soloists play with sublime, idiomatic brilliance, making each one of these eleven tunes music to die for.

Excerpts from Latin Jazz Network – Paul Da Gama 9/20/2020

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