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Album review: 'Alegria'


Samuel Torres


Blue Conga Music

Colombian percussionist extraordinaire Samuel Torres has worked with Tito Puente, Paquito D'Rivera, Chick Corea, Angelique Kidjo, and many others. Now living in Queens, Torres has just released one of the most ebullient albums of recent years. "Alegria" is brimming with vibrant Colombian and African rhythms, as well as infectious horn lines. Not only is Torres a virtuosic percussionist — playing congas, cajón, talking drum, kalimba (thumb piano), and much more — he wrote and arranged all eight of the album's wonderfully evocative compositions.

The album is also a showcase for Latin folkloric music and other traditions, featuring diverse forms: Cuban descarga, pilón, and guaguancó; Afro-Peruvian landó, Colombian and Ecuadorian bambuco, salsa choke, bolero, and just plain funk. Torres is joined by some of the finest musicians in jazz, including pianist Luis Perdomo, trombonist Marshall Gilkes, bassist Ruben Rodriguez, drummer Pablo Bencid, trumpeter Michael Rodriguez and saxophonists Will Vinson, Ivan Renta and Joel Frahm.