Personnel include: Bobby Shew (trumpet, flugel); Mark Levine (piano); Jose "Papo" Rodriguez (bongos, percussion); Justo Almario (tenor sax, flute); Arturo Velasco (trombone); Ricardo "Tiki" Pasillas (timbales); Michito Sanchez (congas); Eddie Resto (bass); Sal Cracchiolo (trumpet, flugel)
Of course, Shew is an excellent player in any context, and there’s no reason he should be any less so in this one, especially in light of his background. The supporting cast also perform well, with effective solos by tenor/flutist Almario, pianist Levine and trombonist Velasco complementing the slashing rhythmic incursions of Rodriguez, Pasillas, Resto and Sanchez. Of the songs chosen, only Ray Bryant’s “Cubano Chant,” which opens the session, was familiar to me. But no matter; all of them are admirable, including three sunny compositions by Levine (“Linda Chicana,” “Serengeti,” “Santo Domingo”), one each by Cal Tjader (“Paunetto’s Point”), Harold Ousley (“Elation”) and Bill Fitch (“Insight”), and two (“Paloma,” the lively “Mambo Galante” on which Shew and Cracchiolo present their version of “dueling trumpets”) by Robert Washut, director of Jazz Studies at the University of Northern Iowa. Savor the music, and if you’re not yet satisfied, try Bobby’s recipes for red chili sauce or guacamole, which are included. Some people simply can’t get enough salsa; others (myself included) encounter heartburn after more than one small helping. If you can tolerate the spicier aspects of Jazz, this one's for you.
---- Jack Bowers (All About Jazz, 1998)