With 60 years of music making under his belt, the Cuban-born composer, arranger, and bandleader Chico O'Farrill reigns as the dean of Latin jazz. After arriving in New York in 1948, he worked with Benny Goodman, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, and Machito. Carambola, the maestro's first CD of the 21st century, finds him in rare form. Old tunes like "Carambola," "Havana Blues," and "Crazy City (...But I Love It)" charge with a mambo-bebop fire. "Waller Exercise" is a ragtime-stride, New Orleans second-line ditty recorded to sound like a scratchy 78, while "Rhapsody for Two Islands" is a Cubop shout to George Gershwin. The timeless vocals of Graciela, the sister of Machito and wife of Mario Bauza, grace "Oye Mi Rumba." The CD's high points, though, are O'Farrill's extended compositions--his 1950 masterpiece, "The Afro-Cuban Jazz Suite" with its mercurial, millennial mood, and "The Aztec Suite." Composed in 1959, the latter is featured on CD for the first time. Both numbers indulge peppery rumbas, bebop lines, boleros, and Afro syncopations with the touch of a master. Trumpeters Phillip Michael Mossman and Jim Seeley, trombonist Papo Vazquez and alto saxophonist Mario Rivera add their improvisations to the mix and make this aural offering one tasty Cuban-American dish. --Eugene Holley Jr.