Six years after releasing their debut recording, Havana's Cubanismo is already looking at a best of collection. That's how good they are. The music is reminiscent of the hugely successful Buena Vista Social Club recording of a few years back, due to the same reliance on the Cuban dance music of the 1940s and '50s. There are a few surprises to recommend this superb collection, as well.
When Dizzy Gillespie discovered Cuban music half a century ago, the Afro-Cuban hybrid was born, at least for the ears of Americanos. This supercharged and eminently hip-shakable music was rockin' the cities and countryside for years before Dizzy landed, though. Rumbas and cha chas, driven by an extraordinary horn section led by trumpet virtuoso Jesus Alemany make this one of the best party records I've heard this year.
Not only do they tackle a handful of classic Cuban numbers, they give Marley -- "Get Up Stand Up" and "Could You Be Loved," both new to this collection -- an interesting treatment, as well. Legendary Jamaican guitarist Ernest Ranglin sits in on the former.
The band's take on "Marie Laveaux", with vocals by Rafael Duany and John Boutte is superb. The meat here is in the traditional numbers, though. The wonderful "Mambo UK," which kicks the collection off, sets the pace. Thye following "Descarga de Hoy," offers more of the high energy the band is known for, and "Mulence" is a wonderful mid-tempo ballad that showcases the vocals of 'El Jibaro', aka Fernardo Ferrer Rodriguez.
I'm particularly fond of the sexy "Pa' Que Gozen." The lyrics aren't translated and I have no idea what the song is about, but I know a grind when I hear one. Like everything else on the collection it's a tour de force of playing. The work by veteran Cuban pianist Alfredo Rodriguez is breathtaking here and notable throughout. Jesus Alemany's trumpet work is equally stellar and exciting.
Cubanismo is a large ensemble of first-rate players. If they come to a city near you, rent a bus and take your friends. This is authentic and exciting music that's guaranteed to move the most staid bones.
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This review is copyright © 2002 by Mark E. Gallo, and Blues On Stage at: www.mnblues.com, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission.
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