Louie Cruz Beltran – Paint the Rhythm

Music can affect emotions, but something about Louie Cruz Beltran’s Paint the Rhythm (Corniche Entertainment, 2011) also conjures a taste for chips and salsa.

Beltran has performed with a diverse lineup of stars, from Smokey Robinson and Natalie Cole to Dave Koz and Macy Gray. He’s accompanied by a variable array of musicians. Among them are pianist Joe Rotondi, vibist Nick Mancini, bassists Oscar Cartaya and Abraham Laboriel, and the three-piece horn section of tenor saxophonist Justo Almario, alto saxophonist Albert Wing and trombonist Eric Jorgensen.

The set sizzles from the start with “Chili Caliente.” Beltran composed this spicy piece, and offers plenty of seasoning with his lead vocal. After a few vocal verses and a brief quote, “Shimmy, shimmy, coco-bop,” he lets the instruments do the cooking. Rotondi takes a turn out front, but it’s largely about the percussion, with a little help from the horns.

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