Although the five musicians comprising Liga Latina are based in Scandinavia, their eponymous debut ignites your mind and heart with the passion and fire of Afro-Cuban, Cuba, Latin and Caribbean music. In the band's own words: Liga Latina is "one long love story between the Spanish guitar and the African drum."
Liga Latina centers around composer Mike Hecchi, who takes lead vocals, plays guitar (Spanish) and trés (Cuban), and is joined in the solo frontline by trumpeter Rune Krogshede. Pianist Theo Hjorth, drummer/percussionist Bo Johansen and double bassist Michell Boysen contribute luscious rhythms deep enough to swim in. Hecchi and Krogshede dive into these rhythms with deep genuineness and emotional transparency. Hecci's singing voice is not pretty but he sings with such longing that it is often quite beautiful, while Krogshede's trumpet is often so beautiful that it hurts.
Liga Latina is a beautiful experience from the leadoff "La Venganza," with thoroughly enchanting trumpet and guitar calling this piece to order and leading the percussion and piano to complete the ensemble's full instrumental sound. I don't understand the language that Hecchi sings in, but the passion in his delivery ensures me that his words come from a heart full of hurt. Piano and trumpet solos moan with that same throbbing pain. "La Venganza" is simply and profoundly beautiful.
Hecchi's strings sing out the first verse to "Cuarto De La Banda" in such gentlemanly and genteel style that his throaty, rough vocal seems to push them aside when his voice enters the tune. Flamenco overtones include bringing the music to a complete and dramatic stop, a silence into which Krogshede's trumpet solo confidently swings. "El Carretero" subsequently delivers more of the same, with percussion and piano and guitar simmering a warm and liquid Latin groove, and with Hecchi's voice and guitar, Hjorth's piano and Krogshede's trumpet pouring out primal, emotional force with every solo.
"Revealed" features a knotty electric solo by guitarist Alex Olesen, mysterious vocals by Cassia DeMayo, and music and lyrics ("I've been walking summer nights, all blue and green...") which sound as smoky and emotionally poignant as an Amy Winehouse blues.
You need to hear Liga Latina for yourself, because a writer can only explain the genuineness and authenticity of its musicians and sound as musical magic.
La Venganza; Cariño Corazon; Cuarto de la Banda; El Carretero; El Sabor; Revealed; Cacique; Toro Mata; Y Tú Qué Has Hecho.
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