Far from a typical salsa release, Putumayo Presents: Afro Latino is an intriguing compilation that examines the relationship between African music and Afro-Cuban music in the 1990s. African rhythms were instrumental in the development of son, cha cha, mambo, guaguanco, and other Cuban styles that came to be called salsa, and things really became ironic when artists in different parts of Africa started embracing salsa. Spanning 1995-1998, this 12-song CD boasts salsa recordings by both African and Cuban artists. Tam-Tam 2000's "Me Vuelvo Guajiro," Ricardo Lemvo's "Mambo Yo Yo," and Africando's "Yah Boy" reveal how exciting it can be when artists from Senegal and the Congo combine modern African pop (especially soukous) with salsa, while Cuban recordings like Papi Oviedo's "Vivo en el Monte," Cuarteto Oriente's "Mueve la Cintura Mulata" and Conjunto Céspedes' "Aideu" can serve as reminders of the rhythmic debt that Cubans owe to Africans. And to make things even more interesting, Putumayo also includes Peruvian singer Julian Avalos and Afro-Andes' "Mujer Magica," an engaging combination of Afro-Cuban and South American elements. Full of surprises, this is a superb collection that lovers of both African and Afro-Cuban music shouldn't miss.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson