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Various Artists: Afro-Latin Party

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As anyone with half a clue is well aware, there's but one imperative at a so-called Afro-Latin Party, which is to dance the night away. The title of this perky compilation may leave out the obvious, but there's no way you could possibly miss its implications once you hit play. So clear the floor and get busy.

Africando gets the fiesta going with a little bit of Cuba by way of West Africa, a combination with fresh twist and bounce. The featured vocalist on the opening track is Burkina Faso's Amadou Balake, who shares the stage quite affably with the other musicians in a dynamic give-and-take. The group returns twice later with featured Senegalese vocalists Medoune Diallo (brighter and more liquid in his flow) and Nicolas Menheim (mellow and classic-sounding), respectively. Like Senegal's Orchestra Baobab—from which Medoune Diallo's voice should be familiar—Africando cooks without boiling over, relying on interlocking rhythms and hooks to keep things steamy.

And that's something that carries over to the rest of the collection. José Mangual Jr.'s "Ritmo con Aché" has a catchy refrain and a bevy of bright salsa horns, but it doesn't push things into the trap of excess. That should come as no surprise to those already attuned to Putumayo's "Guaranteed to make you feel good!" motto. Who would have thought that Portland, Oregon would be a retro-mambo hotbed? Pepe and the Bottle Blondes make that case with "Cuéntame Que Te Pasó" ("Tell Me What Happened to You"), an irresistibly catchy cha cha chá.

More surprises await, including the trans-Caribbean cross-pollination of Ska Cubano, the gentle shuffle of Croatian salsa outfit Cubismo (dance with your feet, please!), and the moving salsafied Martinique sounds of Ronald Rubinel's Salsa Kolor. All that trans-global motion doesn't interrupt the flow of the music one bit as these jams beg you to swivel your hips and step on out.


Track Listing: Betece; Ritmo Con Ach

Personnel: Africando featuring Amadou Balake; Jose Mangual Jr.; Pepe & The Bottle Blondes; Ska Cubano; Africando featuring Medoune Diallo; Cubismo; Africando featuring Nicholas Menheim; Chico

Title: Afro-Latin Party | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Putumayo World Music

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