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Live at the Red Garter, Vol. 2
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  • The second of two Live at the Red Garter volumes mirrored the first, presenting a powerful lineup of Latin virtuosos packed onto one stage and boasting an energy output that must've blown fans out of the club and onto the street in short order. The group intersperses long improvisational workouts with a short number or two, Ray Barretto introducing the first, his own "Son Cuero y Boogaloo," which gets the album off to a swinging start with the chorus leading the show. Larry Harlow's "Noche" is also excellent, a brassy, slow-grind number with heavy Cuban influence that elicits plenty of solos, led by Harlow himself on piano, as well as a great vocal chorus that winds the track to its long conclusion with a large climax. Unlike any other Latin jam session, Fania All-Stars demonstrated from the beginning that they were not only fluent with any Latin form (of course), but could also take on R&B and jazz to rank with the best there, as well. (For the former, the two-minute "Red Garter Strut" evinces all the strut of a top-tier funk band; for the latter, check out Charlie Palmieri's "Kikapoo Joy Juice.") ~ John Bush
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