Khaeon Records is a niche label that specializes in World Music. The label currently has five releases, four of which are Latin in character (The John Benitez Trio’s Descarga in New York , Carlos Barbosa-Lima’s Mambo No. 5 , Christos Rafalides’ Manhattan Vibes , Trio Mundo’s Carnaval , and Pablo Menéndez’s Havana Blues Mambo ) and the fifth, a straight-ahead jazz collection (David Gardner’s Grace ). Akimba! is the newest release for the label by the very fine Cuban septet Mezcla, which is lead by Pablo Menéndez. Akimba! Is termed Mezcla’s first jazz recorded in spite of the fact they have been performing and recording since 1985. Mezcla has the distinction of having been one of the first Cuban groups to thaw that last of the Cold War Art Freeze between Cuba and The United States, in the mid-1990s.
! Was recorded live before an appreciative crowd at La Zorra y el Cuervo in Havana. All of the pieces chosen for recital were Latin in origin save one, Charlie Parker’s "Donna Lee." Which just as well have been Latin for the ingenious arrangement and treatment it is given here. I would term this "Acid Latin" except that that provides a connotation that is not exactly accurate. The music herein is like a savory broth that has been reduced and concentrated to an almost overwhelmingly intense flavor. Characteristic of Latin music, Mezcla sports dense percussion with piquant rhythms. The horns are bright and never overpowering. This disc can be considered a must for those who are looking for some more heat from their Latin jazz.