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Various Artists: Afro-Latin Party

Woodrow Wilkins By

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Various Artists: Afro-Latin Party Some of the most straightforward music comes from the islands of the Caribbean. Whether inspired by raw emotion or a simple desire to groove, no gimmicks are needed to deliver a sound that makes you want to dance or simply bob your head to the rhythm. In recognizing this, Putumayo has packaged an excellent collection of ten songs that bring together elements from Africa, America, and Cuba, performed by artists who represent some of the finest sounds from their respective lands. The music covers a lot of ground, from the nightclubs of Cuba and Africa to the Pacific Northwest, even pitching in a bit of delightful humor.

Pepe & The Bottle Blondes bring us "Cunetame Que Te Paso, a mix of Latin rhythms with American pop. The group is a Latin and swing band based in Portland, Oregon. Lead singer Pepe Raphael, a native of Madrid, Spain, used to sing with the Portland group Pink Martini. Background singers Nadine Stanton and Jessica Hollyfield provide vocals that, while relevant, bring to mind the sounds of the pop/punk group the B-52s.

Africando appears on three tracks, each featuring a different lead vocalist. The group makes the connection between African and Cuban music so seamlessly that it's difficult to tell where one culture ends and the other begins, since both are based at least partially on rhythms and instruments imported to the Americas by slaves from Africa. These three tracks, "Betece, "Mandali, and "Demal, are among the livelier songs on the album. And that says a lot, considering that all of the selections are upbeat and danceable.

Cubismo offers up "Morenita, which could easily mislead the listener into believing this group is rooted in Latin America. However, like other European bands that have embraced such American styles as jazz and the blues, Cubismo is a salsa band that hails from Zagreb, Croatia, founded by a group of Latin music fanatics. This offering is one example among many that one need not be born in a place to assimilate its culture—in this case, a blend of salsa, Latin jazz, and Afro-Cuban grooves.

These are just a few examples of the cross-cultural elements that combine to make Afro-Cuban Party an exceptional recording. It is a dance record, but it's also much more. A few of the tracks even slip in a bit of Brazilian samba, adding to the universal theme of the album. Even if you prefer listening and getting into the mental aspect of music, don't be surprised if your hands or feet get their groove on.

Track Listing: Betece, Ritmo Con Ache, Cuentome Que Te Paso, Babalu, Mandali, Morenita, Demal, Cogele el Gusto, La Huelga Me Paro, Samba Luku Samba

Personnel: Africando featuring Amadou Balake, Jose Mangual Jr., Pepe & The Bottle Blondes, Ska Cubano, Africando featuring Medoune Diallo, Cubismo, Africando featuring Nicolas Menheim, Ronald Rubinel

Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Putumayo World Music | Style: Latin/World


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