1. Hilario Durán Trio – Motion (Alma Records)
One of the greatest Cuban pianists. No doubt about it. Either solo, on a duo, trio, quartet… or a big band (you get the idea), Hilario’s compositions and arrangements are outstanding.
2. Danilo Perez – Providencia (Mack Avenue Records)
A truly Pan-American and global masterpiece, Providencia is a beautiful ode to Danilo Perez’s country, to his Panamanian roots, and to his beloved Latin America by extension.
3. Roberto Fonseca – Akokan (Justin Time Records)
Roberto Fonseca belongs to a new generation of Cuban pianists. Incredibly talented, he’s taking the island’s pianistic tradition to new heights. Very spiritual CD. Almost a religious experience.
4. Jovino Santos Neto – Veja o Som/See the Sound (Adventure Music)
This double CD (CD 1 recorded in his adopted country, US and CD 2 recorded in his native Brazil) pairs Jovino Santos Neto with so many incredible artists. A true feast for the senses.
5. Alain Perez – Apetecible (GloboMedia Musica)
On his second recording as a band leader, Alain Perez presents a delightful mix of genres: world, jazz, flamenco, pop, all with a Cuban twist. As a singer, he sounds truly amazing.
6. Paquito D’Rivera with the Pablo Aslan Ensemble – Tango Jazz: Live at the Lincoln Center (Sunnyside Records)
Paquito’s love affair with the music of Gardel and Piazzola goes back in time. This live recording is an excellent homage to the Southern region of the Americas. Great musicianship.
7. Alex Brown – Pianist (Sunnyside Records)
Alex Brown is the youngest talent of the year. Growing under the wings of his Master/Mentor Paquito D’Rivera, Mr. Brown is surely finding his musical voice. An inspired recording.
8. Chicago Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble – Blueprints (Chicago Sessions)
As co-leaders, Nicaraguan pianist, Darwin Noguera and trumpet player Victor Garcia (Chicago native with a mexican heritage) share a common taste for the magnificence of big band compositions. A smoking performance.
9. Samuel Torres – Yaoundé (Self Produced)
The vibrancy and the rhythmic richness of his native Colombia run in Samuel Torres veins. Is the blood of Mother Africa, which nurtures his music, and his artistry.
10. Hector Martignon – Second Chance (Zoho Music)
A remarkable pianist and composer -also hailing from Colombia- Hector Martignon shines on this recording. His arrangements and execution are impecable.