How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
This set layers thirteen tracks from the Cubop roster of Afro-Cuban masters past and present into a thick forest of steamy, sweltering percussion funk.
Timbalero Bobby Matos was the first artist the label signed and is represented by “Kimbisa” from his album Footprints. Matos also produced “Back to the Roots,” a reminder that the marimba is a percussion instrument too, from Peligroso, the second Cubop album by marimba player Dave Pike. A longtime veteran of the Latin groove, Pike has graced sessions led by Bill Evans and Herbie Hancock and is also featured on Herbie Mann’s classic Family of Mann album.
It’s sometimes more foolish than brave to cover a song when a famous cover version already exists. But thanks to the hot and brilliant tenor saxophone of Charles Owens, conguero Francisco Aguabella rediscovers the sparkle of the Coltrane side to “My Favorite Things,” changing the beat on the last note of the two main melodic phrases just enough to make the rhythm flow differently behind Owens’ titanic tenor.
Other stalwarts are represented with “Bemba Colora” from Scorching the Skins by legendary conguero Jack Costanzo, universally credited with introducing the bongos to American jazz, and “My Dream Boogaloo” from Caliente Con Soul by Pucho & The Latin Soul Brothers. Prime movers in the virulently funky 1960s – ‘70s soul jazz strain known as boogaloo, timbalero Henry “Pucho” Brown and his Brothers continue to rock the beat hard – playfully, but hard. Another pillar of the Afro-Cuban community, Tito Puente is honored by British conguero/DJ Snowboy with “42nd & Broadway” from his tribute album Para Puente.
In addition, this set delivers a genuine collectors’ item with “Barrets Bag,” a teeth-rattling percussion explosion from the Har You Percussion Group, a fifteen-piece electric Latin / funk fusion big band which grew from a community service program designed to benefit young people in Harlem.
Track Listing: Just Another Guajira, Kimbisa, My Favorite Things, Mallet Hands, I Don't Speak Spanish, Skin & Bones, My Dream Boogaloo, Juan Jose, Barrets Bag, Tresguanco (for Iris Pell), Back to the Roots, 42nd & Broadway, Bemba Colora
Personnel: Cuban Roots, Bobby Matos, Francisco Aguabella, Ray Armando, John Santos / Bobby Matos, Johnny Blas, Pucho & His Latin Soul Brothers, Papo Vazquez, Har You Percussion Ensemble, Derf Reklaw, Dave Pike, Snowboy, Jack Costanzo