El Juicio cover

El Juicio

Released

Trombonist Willie Colón started working with singer Héctor Lavoe in 1967, when they were both teenagers. By 1972, they were at their creative height, and this album — Colón’s seventh — contains two all-time classic songs and several happy surprises, including “Piraña,” on which the leader and second trombonist Eric Matos borrow the melody of Juan Tizol’s “Caravan” as performed by Duke Ellington. The album’s centerpiece, though, is the 15-minute stretch that includes the dramatic “El Timbalero,” which adds flamenco castanets and a cappella vocal lines to the salsa, and the even more astonishing “Aguanile,” which features one of Lavoe’s most impassioned, improvisatory vocals over an absolutely steaming rhythm section and dense, blaring trombones.

Phil Freeman

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