by Jamie Lee Rake

Kali Rodriguez Peña may or may not know of Marshall McLuhan. But the Cuban trumpeter/band leader seems to have absorbed the late media ecologist’s observation that that the media can, at the very least, influence the messages it sends. On the triumphantly expansive Melange, a significant portion of the message is that listening to playlists of our own choosing—as opposed to curatorial exercises such as albums—can render the idea of genre a moot point nowadays.

Rodriguez-Peña is solidly rooted in Hispanic jazz tradition enough to encourage plenty of dancing and get some play on Spanish language tropical radio (probably with some editing his generally six-minute-plus compositions). But his adventuresomeness leads to places not commonly broached by the many Latin jazz practitioners. 

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