Maybe it's because I grew up around Philadelphia through the 1970s, but I always remember soul music aroundsoul music light enough to dance like a butterfly on a breeze yet knee-deep enough in the funk that one could dive in and swim. Its charm was easy to recognize and feel, but hard to describe and define.
Gecko Turner's Guapapasea! feels like one of those great breezy soul records. It comes from Spain via his nimble twelve-piece Afrobeatnik Orchestra, which features some of the world's best Afro-Cuban and Brazilian instrumentalists, including percussionist Ruben Dantas (Paco de Lucia, Chick Corea), trumpeter Irapoam Freire, drummer Emilio Valdés (Chucho Valdés), and other instrumental aces from the US, Africa and Spain.
Turner calls his highly individualized style "Afromeño, a mixture of all musicsand boy, does he ever mean all musicsfrom Spain, Africa, the Caribbean and the Americas. These cover versions of "Rainbow Country (Bob Marley), and the acoustic lounge/reggae/trip-hop cover of "Subterranean Homesick Blues (Bob Dylan), rendered in Spanish, seem to invite you to wade in these waters.
Because after you grow comfortable enough to dive into "Afromeño, the genuinely inspired lunacy begins. Turner proves quite the tasty instrumentalist on guitars, drums, and programming, and growls and purrs and meows through his lead vocals like a tomcat on a funky midnight prowl. "How Come You Do Me Like You Do Me? (Big Bang Romeo) and "Sabes Quién te Quiere? swing softly on deft rhythms, percussion and guitars, while Latin piano and rhythms rock "Monka Mongas. Lastly, its slinky rhythm and feline melody and vocal make the set-ending "45,000$ (Guapa Pasea) almost impossible to resist.
Guapapasea! will make you smile and dance and shake ya groove thang, yeah yeah. Even if not high art, it certainly delivers high times.
Personnel: Gecko Turner: vocals, guitar, percussion, programming; Alvaro Fdez "Dr. Robelto": bass, backing vocals; Pepin Munoz: drums; Diego Antunez: flute; Rafa Prieto: guitar; Javi Mojave: congas, cajon; Tony Pajaro "Wailer": shaker, backing vocals; Emelio Valdes: drums; Rodney D'Assis: pandiero, shaker, agogo, tamburino, snare drum; Irapoan Freire: trumpets; Rubem Dantas: cymbals, cuica; Felix Bote: trumpet; Markos Bayon: bass; Cesar Bayon: percussion; Lolo Inglesias: Spanish guitar; Diego Antunez: flute; Alba Echave: backing vocals; Javeir Vercher: tenor sax; The Ara Family: backing vocals.