Various Artists

Cuban Funk Experience

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The Nascente label's compilations are far more often hits than misses -- especially when it comes to a various-artists mix. Cuban Funk Experience is no exception. This set collects 20 of the hippest, funkiest tracks to come out of Fidel Castro's brief but impossibly great new "music revolution" in the mid-'70s. That music gave rise in the Miami expat scene to new musical forms as well. This 20-track compilation assembles music released in both places to form a complex but wonderfully exciting portrait of 15 years when it seemed that, despite what the rest of the nation was listening to, Cuban music was in the middle of a great renaissance. While songo and Afro-Cuban variations on son were popping out of Fidel's Havana via the recordings of Irakere and Los Van Van, Miami was kicking it out with killer underground sounds from Coke, the great Cuban expat pianist Hilario Durán, Luis Santi, Peter Fernandez, Grupo Monumental, and many others. Irakere and Los Van Van are here twice each, but that's OK, since these are fairly rare cuts -- one each has never been released on CD before. But all of the music here is finger-popping, butt-shakin' terrific. The price is certainly right and the sleeve essay by John Armstrong paints a brief but accurate and colorful picture of the scene.

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