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  • Jonathan Widran

RAY OBIEDO, Carousel

With the release of Carousel, an adventurous, often dazzlingly exotic collection fusing the many musical loves of Ray Obiedo’s life (pop, jazz, R&B, Afro-Cuban, Latin/Brazilian), the renowned Bay Area guitarist celebrates 30 years as a solo recording artist.

His wide-ranging career, which includes performing and/or recording with Herbie Hancock, George Duke, Pete Escovedo, Grover Washington, Jr., The Whispers and Sheila E. has earned him a massive coterie of all-star musical friends – and most of them, blissfully seem to be here at the party.

Obiedo’s got sax great Bob Mintzer scorching up the Afro-funk jam “Jinx” and adding silky cool to the tropical sensuality of “Modern World.” Late harmonica legend Toots Thielemans brings a graceful wistfulness to the dreamy moods of “Song for Jules” (named for Obiedo’s older son), while steel pan great Andy Narell adds wit and whimsy to the breezy flow of “Villa Capri.”

Others luminaries on hand include percussionist Peter Michael Escovedo, (who, ironically appears on “Sharp Aztec” and not “Cho’s Cha,” a smooth and tropical Latin jazz joint dedicated to his sister, Sheila E.), and on “Sharp Aztec,” former Santana member, trombonist Jeff Cressman Tower of Power drummer David Garabaldi. Obiedo is an exciting guitarist capable of majestic explosions amidst his fluid melodic lines, yet here he’s excited to mingle and ensemble with his pals to create a nonstop burst of musical energy.

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