Orlando Cotto
Self Published
Orlando Cotto has established himself as a premier marimba player who can perform exotic original music as well as more standard repertory. On this CD he shows his skill as an improviser, performing the music of John Coltrane, Oscar Hernandez, Ernesto Lecuona, and his own compositions. The music is in an Afro-Cuban style and features Michael Spiro on percussion and Juan Alamo who plays vibes and contributed some of the arrangements. The CD opens with Coltrane’s “Equinox,” which is probably the strongest performance on the CD and fits the Afro-Cuban feel very well. Next is Cotto’s “Marimba Suite,” a work of three movements titled “Capriccio,” “Guaguaco,” and, “Abakua.” These, along with the other pieces, are well conceived and interesting to listen to. Also of note is “Danzon For My Father” by Hernandez. This is a lovely tune played on vibes with the middle section played on marimba. The percussion accompaniment is perfect. The congas, timbales, and other percussion on this CD are performed beautifully. The conga grooves, along with the “tumbao” and “montuno” played on the marimba, always feel great. At times I found myself focusing more on the accompaniment than on the improvised solos. The solos are appropriate and well played throughout the recording, but a little predictable at times. Still, this is a good outing for Cotto, who plays with much fire and conviction, and the overall musical product is very good.

—Tom Morgan