Jim ParisiMusic Review

Party, Latin Style

Latin PartyBy Jim Parisi

When it comes to parties, no one does it better than people of the Latin culture. Spirits are high and conversations are animated, but best of all, the food is always delectable and the music upbeat and very danceable. None of these factors has was lost on Putumayo Music when they released their new album, appropriately titled “Latin Party”, a compilation of twelve modern, up-tempo songs from a varied reach of Latin regions and influences. Latin people are very proud of their heritage and I think this CD demonstrates how new musicians pay homage to their musical Latino roots, while putting their own spin on it.

Jaime Peligro Books and Music

The album kicks off with “Big Apple Boogaloo” by Brooklyn Funk Essentials, a band that got its start in the early Nineties as a studio jam band that evolved into a group doing world tours, with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie sitting in, which adds a lot to your credibility. Another artist from Spanish Harlem, Luis Mangual offers his song “Son de Nueva York” for this album. Luis is a legendary sideman from the Sixties, backing such names as Johnny Pacheco and Celia Cruz. He retired from performing in the late Eighties but returned to the studio in 2007 with his brother, Jose, to record the album “Abril en Paris”, which is where this song first appeared.  And the group Yerba Buena, also from NYC, perform “Electric Boogaloo”, from their 2005 album “President Alien”, recorded with Venezuelan producer Andre Lorin, who has also worked with David Byrne, Tina Turner and Marisa Tome, so you know he can put the funk right in your face.

Cuban son is well represented here, with Raul Paz playing “Buena Suerte”. Paz, who has been living in Paris for the last decade and has played alongside Ruben Blades, really rips it up on this song.  Another Cubano band with a French connection is Mas Bajo. Also residing in France, the band is a cool mix of French, Cuban, Chilean and Mexican musicians who reflect their Afro-Latin ties. The band began playing cover tunes but has graduated to writing and performing their own material, including “Rico Montuno”, the song on this disc. Anything but conventional, Ska Cubano is obviously having a good time playing “Yri Yri Bon”. The band came into existence when London ska artist Natty Bo went to Havana to record. He inadvertently met Beny Billy, a former boxer, who quickly became the frontman for the new band Ska Cubano. The music is infectious and I see it as a standout on this album.

No Latin party disc would be complete without Colombian cumbia showing up and it does so in spades on this album. Fruka y Orquesta has been at it since the early Seventies. On this compilation, he offers an updated version of “Cumbia Del Caribe” by fellow Colombiano Edmundo Arias. And the Quantic Soul Orchestra presents “Regi Bugaloo” an instrumental from their 2007 album Tropidelico, which was actually recorded in Panama City. From Bogotá, the thirteen-member band Orquesta Lo Nuestro does their number “Ni Tilingo Ni Titingo”, a moving cumbia number with a salsa twist. Also from Colombia, Coffee Makers, who have generated a reggae underground uprising in that country, play an instrumental ska reggae original, “Las Calles de Medellin”, from their 2005 debut, “El Camino”.

Rounding out the Party are a song from Peruvian singer Cecilia Noël and The Wild Clams, doing what she calls, “hard core salsa” with the song “Asi Se Compone Un Son” and the Corpus Christi band Kombia Kings, with bassist A.B. Quintanilla, the sister of Selena, with their composition “Mi Gente”.

Did I say a Latin Party wasn’t complete without good food? Well, at the end of the liner notes (in English, Spanish and French), there are recipes for scallop ceviche and Cleriquot, a white sangria. If I have a knock on the project, it would be that I’d like to hear more South American and, of course, more Central American contributions. Is this a set-up for Latin Party Dos?

Latin Party is available at the Jaime Peligro bookstores in Tamarindo, Quepos and Tilaran, where they will gladly sample the music for their customers.