Rubén Blades y Roberto Delgado & Orquesta

SalSwing!
(Self-Released)

Ruben Blades continues expanding his musical vision with an 11-tune collaboration with the Panamanian bassist/bandleader Roberto Delgado.

The combination implied in the title isn’t as outside as one may think. Swing and Latin rhythms have long influenced each other. The set list includes tunes that reference Blades’ entire career, as well as various swing classics.

The tone is characterized by the opening tunes, “Paula C” and “Pennies From Heaven.” The Orquesta jumps in, horns blazing, to open “Paula C,” reinventing an early Blades hit from 1979. Juan Berna’s piano creates syncopated rhythms as the percussion section lays down a simmering Afro-Cuban pulse.

Blades trades improvised lines with the coro, while a trumpet climbs the scale to end on some impressive high notes. He croons “Pennies From Heaven,” his phrasing dancing in and out of time in a manner that would make Billy Eckstine proud.