In its major-label debut, Puerto Rican party band Algarete, which by some accounts is the single most active group on the island, enthusiastically translates its blend of ska, rock, rap, and reggae to disc, not allowing the studio to mellow out a certain aggression.
This sixth yearly installment of what has become a bankably gold and platinum franchise comprises 30 of last year's most popular and best-selling gospel tracks by an array of artists, both rookies and veterans.
There is a reason why bassist Drew Gress and drummer Nasheet Waits' names are prominently displayed on Hersch's first trio date in eight years: While the pianist is the group's leader, his sidemen's impact is inestimable. When Hersch navigates Monk's "Bemsha Swing," Gress and Waits enter so gently alongside him that their presence is at first felt more than actually registered. On other cuts, such as
Billy Corgan is so intent upon differentiating Zwan from the sadly departed Smashing Pumpkins that he credits his performance on Mary Star of the Sea to the previously unknown "Billy Burke." It's a move that initially smacks of pretension, but it's ultimately fair enough. He wants a fresh start as a member of a band that bares little resemblance to his indelible former unit. While Zwan sometimes displays the anguished heart of the Pumpkins, the band also has a leaner, upbeat sound that is, at times, downright sweet and playful. No one will ever mistake Corgan for a glowing ray of sunshine, but he sure knows how to craft a poppy hook—as evidenced on the giddy "Baby Let's Rock!" and the bouncy "Lyric."