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Pedrito Martinez Group - Habana Dreams / Wall Street Journal review

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At Manhattan's Symphony Space in May, what began as a concert ended in a dance party. Two-dozen women left their seats and took to the stage. Nearly obscured from view was the powerhouse quartet led by Pedrito Martinez, a Cuban percussionist and singer whose career is in steady ascent, and his special guest, Issac Delgado, a singer whose place in the pantheon of great Cuban vocalists is secure.

At Symphony Space, Messrs. Martinez and Delgado traded vocal phrases with delicious contrast-Mr. Delgado floating over rhythms, Mr. Martinez biting into beats. The two do the same on the title track of "Habana Dreams" (Motéma Music), the second album from Mr. Martinez's quartet. Mr. Martinez can easily summon what inspires listeners to rise up and move as he adds new textures to timba, the contemporary dance music Mr. Delgado helped pioneer. Yet this new album aspires to and delivers far more. It reflects Mr. Martinez's intention to mine Afro-Cuban folkloric roots in the service of innovative musical ends. And it presents him as a masterly player and singer now matured into a deft composer and bold leader, a deeply reflective artist moving in multiple directions yet firmly grounded.