Cintron is a New Jersey-based band that mixes elements of Jazz, Soul and Latin influences into a very nice amalgamation that leans heavily on 60s and 70s R&B. Formed in 2000 by veteran jazz percussionist Edgardo Cintron and vocalist Rocco DePersia, the group boasts a strong lineup of seasoned performers, with particularly strong rhythm and horn sections. Members include vocalists JAYAR, Tony Perez and Anthony Bartolomeo; percussionists Noel Cintron and Edwin Centeno; keyboardists Demetrius Pappas and Jimmy Lopez; guitarist Joe Vinson; bass player Michael Colon; and the great horn section of Don Collins, Humberto Alicea, James Dennis, Angel Velez, Michael Pedicin, Bobby Michaels and Gil Cruz.
Cintron made its auspicious live performance debut in 2001 at the New Millenium Diversity Presidential Inaugural Ball for President Bush in Washington D.C., and played the next year at the New Jersey Gubernatorial Inaugural Ball. In addition to forming a loyal following in the Jersey area, the group received some national attention for their two well-received albums, 2000's Absolutely and 2003's Hitmen.
The Cintron live show includes a number of soul covers, so it was natural that the group's third release would explore the classic soul of the 60s and 70s. The result is Back In The Day, an album that salutes that era with stylized versions of a number of pop and soul standards alongside the group's original tunes. It is also the group's first disc with major distribution, through Universal.
The group Tierra scored major hits a quarter century ago with covers of the Intruders' "Together" and the Delfonics' "La La Means I Love You," and Back in the Day's covers have much the same feel, relying on strong group harmonies and punchy, latin-influenced arrangements to update the familiar material. And the formula generally works, especially on "Suavecito," the absolutely infectious, radio-ready first single on the album (versions of the song also appear on Cintron's earlier discs), and on a cover of the Soul Survivors' "Expressway to Your Heart," which features vocals by the Survivors' Charlie and Rich Ingui (with whom Cintron occasionally tours). While other covers on the album such as "All Day Music" and "Hey There Lonely Girl" are both fun and well performed, they are not quite as creative, feeling somewhat like the performance of a really good wedding band. Interestingly, it is Cintron's original tunes, such as the hot "Another Night In San Juan" and the nice mid-tempos "Anita" and "In My Heart," that really make the album shine, providing a compelling blend of Latin and Soul and demonstrating the group members' songwriting chops.
Back In the Day will serve as a nice introduction of Cintron to many soul fans. While the classic soul covers will likely bring initial attention to this album, it is actually the group's original material that elevates the album and makes Cintron a group from which I'm looking to hear more in the future. Recommended.
By Chris Rizik