Various Artists

Putumayo Presents: Afro-Latin Party

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Putumayo Presents: Afro-Latin Party might give the idea of frantic, sweaty rhythms, and mambos and salsas at hyperspeed. Instead, this collection focuses more on the genre called son, with some low-key salsa and rumba thrown in for good measure. Africando, the superstar band made up of West African and Latin musicians, claims most of the honors, with three out of ten tracks, highlighting the transatlantic connection and the supreme sense of musicianship. The biggest surprise, however, is Cubismo, who might be from Croatia, but who create a very convincing Cuban sound on "Morenita." Ska Cubano bring a slight touch of ska to the proceedings on the campy "Babalu," while Ronald Rubinel's Salsa Kolor bring Caribbean color from Martinique. In other words, Cuban music doesn't just belong in Cuba any more, and Latin music can't be restricted to the Americas (although this compilation does mostly draw from there). It's all good, well-played stuff, and might get people dancing. But ultimately it seems that tracks have been chosen for functionality within the idea of the compilation rather than their own outstanding qualities (which is possibly fair enough), and end up slightly anonymous.

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