Cuban Masters "Los Originales"

An album that brings together 20 icons of Cuban music—including bassist Israel "Cachao" Lopez, trumpeter Alfredo "Chocolate" Armenteros, conguero Carlos "Patato" ValdÉs, and tumbador Fra

An album that brings together 20 icons of Cuban music—including bassist Israel "Cachao" Lopez, trumpeter Alfredo "Chocolate" Armenteros, conguero Carlos "Patato" Valdés, and tumbador Francisco Aguabella—will inevitably elicit comparisons with Buena Vista Social Club. But while the latter sought to spotlight traditional Cuban music and a group of musicians who, for the most part, were little-known, Cuban Masters pays homage to exiled Cuban musicians who've musically thrived abroad. Cuban Masters is as much about the players as the music, with virtually every track written around the talents of specific individuals, from "Cachao es Mambo" to "Toca la Flauta Fajardo," an homage to the recently deceased José Antonio Fajardo. This set also runs the gamut from charangas to descargas to Latin jazz. And despite the plethora of "reunion" Cuban releases making the rounds, this is an unusual mix of past and present, with as much swing as heart and chops.—LC