Milton Cardona Cambucha

Milton Cardona is a New York percussionist with a deep sense of history balanced by an explorative nature. He has been an essential player on the Latin/ jazz/ no wave recordings of Kip Hanrahan's American Clave label. Cardona gives us his second solo outing with Cambucha, his first CD as a leader in 14 years. Hanrahan, out of respect for Cardona's talent, has given him free reign over Cambucha. Cardona, however, is not the world's greatest producer. As a result, the intriguing experiments of the songs seem more static than they might have been had someone with more experience at the mixing desk been involved. All the percussion performances on Cambucha are captivating and the supporting players are always sympathetic. Cardona has a thing for doo-wop vocals, represented most successfully on "Freedom of Expression." "God's Work Is Indistructable" is one of the most trance-like Afro-Cuban workouts you'll ever hear, but it is one of three nine minute-plus songs on the disc. This is where Cambucha struggles: lack of focus, particularly with pacing. There are times one wishes a fuller band, perhaps with more brass, had been assembled to propel the songs better, but I'm glad he made mistakes while experimenting rather than not having experimented at all. (Justin Time)