World & Latin

Perfect Again

17 APR 08 JOHN C. BRUENING

More than three decades after super-group La Perfecta's demise, founder Eddie Palmieri revisited many of the band's original compositions on La Perfecta II with a new crew dedicated to the classic sound.

In the early-'60s, salsa and Latin jazz legend Palmieri assembled the line-up, an eight-piece combo whose flute/trombone front line proved to be influential for American jazz artists like Herbie Mann and many others. Plagued by financial problems, however, Palmieri disbanded the original group in 1968.

Years later, following the death of trombonist/partner Barry Rogers in 1991, he vowed to never again play music from the La Perfecta period. However, trombonist Doug Beavers' diligent transcriptions of earlier La Perfecta compositions, along with an assembly of high-caliber musicians, forced a change of heart that resulted in this 2002 recording.

Classic compositions like "El Molestoso," "Cuídate Compay," "Tu Tu Ta Ta," "Tirándote Flores" and "Ay Qué Rico" are all executed "with the same degree of sophistication, expertise and understanding of the complex structural engineering generated by the original sound of my first eight-piece ensemble," said Palmieri. In addition to the original material are five new compositions: "Shékere Agent Man," "Apeiron," "Elena, Elena," "Our Routine" and "Cuddles." All of the new materials merge seamlessly with the classic tracks to create a satisfying whole.

Joining Palmieri on the new sessions are many of his longtime collaborators, including trumpeter Brian Lynch and trombonist Conrad Herwig, as well as saxophonist Mario Rivera and percussionist John Rodriguez, Jr.

"The musicians on this CD are presented in a fashion to showcase their own brilliance at once independent and unified," said Palmieri. "Each individual and unselfish talent is what makes the collaboration so successful."