Infusing Cuban elements into American jazz, his influence was felt and acknowledged by such as Nat King Cole and Duke Ellington, as well as a host of others who attended his regular gigs at the Club Metropolis. After leaving New York, and performing in Latin America, France, Italy, Holland, and Japan, Reyes returned to his birthplace, where he has lived for the past 20 years. It is at once a shock and a revelation that this self-titled CD, recorded at the age of 85, is his debut disc as a solo artist. Reyes has been described as attacking the piano keys with a warrior's heart and an angel's hands.
This description is most aptly demonstrated on "Mami Me Gustó" and "Noche esplendorosa" where Reyes' hands literally dance over the keys with the gusto of a man a quarter of his age. It is on the latter track, especially, where Reyes, alone on his piano, transforms this standard into a classical tour de force. The angel's hands part of the equation, however, is most evident on "My Baby Just Cares For Me," where he duets with sultry Sandra Booker on vocals, demonstrating a sensitivity to her vocals while giving no ground on the accompaniment. Even on an arrangement of "El Manisero" (ft.
Estrella Morente) , where the arrangement becomes a bit heavy-handed, Reyes' keys gently shoulder their way to the front. If the overall production of this disc is a bit more slick than one would expect, it is nonetheless a pristine documentation of the work of a man who was at the forefront of what is now the Cuban (and occasionally mislabeled "Latin") Jazz movement. It is incredible that Reyes has not recorded a solo project before now. Many musicians attempt to create a project of this artistic depth for their entire careers; Reyes waited until the twilight of his own, saving his best for last. This is an incredible work, against which future works of its genre will be judged.
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