There are basically two ways to enjoy “Ayer y Hoy,” a truly outstanding new release from Mikata, the twenty-year-young salsa/Latin jazz community-based orchestra, which makes its home in New Haven, Connecticut. You can kick back, get comfy, and prepare yourself for a unique, richly satisfying listening experience … or you can kick out the jams and just dance your butt off from the start of this great recording right to the finish.
If hard-core salsa is your thing, you’re in for a major treat as these seasoned salseros reach deep into the Latin music archives, and add the Mikata magic to such all-time Number One hits as Tito Puente’s “Mani Picao,” Mongo Santamaria’s “Mayeya,” Johnny Pacheco’s “Sonero,” Willie Rosario’s “Amigo de Que” – not to mention three memorable classics of the genre, “Donde Estabas Tu,” “Guaguanco p’el que Sabe,” and the band’s absolutely explosive version of “Ven Iroko.”
Do you believe – as I do – that there can never be enough Latin jazz? With the two timeless classics, “Autumn Leaves” and “Nica’s Dream,” along with the group’s own original, “Late at Night,” Mikata delivers the unmistakable flavor of be-bop/hard-bop jazz lines, beautifully augmented by its own signature – let me call them killer! -- horn arrangements – and backed up by a veteran rhythm section that knows exactly how to combine the driving pulse of guaracha and son montuno with a unique tapestry of traditional Afro-Cuban folkloric elements.
If I had to pick one Latin jazz recording to take with me to the desert island, it would be Mikata’s version of Horace Silver’s “Nica’s Dream.” I just cannot play this track enough. Horace– or as the group calls him, “Senor Plata,” would be proud!
Overall, I consider this latest release by Mikata to be a must-have recording for folks who are into salsa and Latin jazz. And when you’ve listened to “Ayer y Hoy” for the first time, I know you’ll agree.
-- Fran Chesleigh
-- Fran Chesleigh is a Latin percussionist and dance teacher, and lives in New York City.