La Habana Vive distills the musician's lifelong experiences into one scintillating package, covering with disarming ease the vast stylistic distance between the Yoruba chants and earthy Afro-Cuban rhythms that highlight some of the album's tracks and the songo, funk, bebop and bossa influences that percolate to the surface elsewhere on the date.
La Habana Vive is an astounding summit of world class Cuban, European, North and South American musicians. It confirms the vibrant nature of the Latin music scene in Europe and the universal appeal of Cuban-rooted music as it confidently announces the arrival of Cuba's most talented saxophonist to emerge since Paquito d'Rivera captivated a global audience two decades ago.
But perhaps most of all it verifies that Tony Martinez remains a rumbero at heart - a musician forever linked to the traditions that first caught his ear in the shaded plazas of Camagüey, where local percussionists and singers gathered with their homemade congas and claves every Saturday night to bring to life the haunting rhythms of mother Africa and the sentimental melodies of the Spanish colonial era. On La Habana Vive, the jazz he's grown to love and the Afro-Cuban rhythms that nurtured his soul as a youth form the kind of powerful union that only a rare talent like Tony Martinez can translate and make an instantly joyous experience for the rest of us.