various artists,
Afro-Latin Party
(Putumayo, 2005)

It has been a while since the winter solstice, and the weather is moody. Gray days and bitter nights, even for those of us close to the Equator, dominate the scene, and frankly, we're all sick of it. Moods are melancholy, and none of us is in the mood for another blues day. On this kind of day, grunge and cheap brandy don't cut it. What can cure this time of ennui? I am pleased to announce that the doctor is in, real in, and the CD to cure what ails you is Afro-Latin Party, Putamayo's prescription for the seasonally challenged.

Putamayo has a history of putting out a jumbalaya of excellent CDs, with a talented bunch of artists from all over the world. On Afro-Latin Party the music has the feel of pre-revolution Cuba, where people could dance and sing with just a beaten-up radio and a dusty floor as the dance hall. For those of us that grew up watching re-runs of I Love Lucy, with Desi Arnaz playing Cuban band leader Ricky Ricardo, it is easy to smile when listening to "Babaloo," especially since the artist on this CD makes the song his own.

Instead of the beat striking a stereotypical chord familiar to a pre-Bay of Pigs mentality, the songs are insistent, striking and enticing. Many of the songs unite the African and Cuban flavors of long ago, and become something new when performed by such singers as Chico Alvarez on "Cogele el Gusto." With an informative and multi-lingual series of liner notes, this CD is a treasure, and one to savor until Cuba libre.

by Ann Flynt
31 March 2007

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