Originally put together by producers Greg Landau and Robert Leaver for a one-off recording session and a concert in San Francisco in November 1994. Ritmo Y Candela was based around legendary Cuban percussionists Carlos ‘Patato’ Valdés, Jose Luis ‘Changuito’ Quintana and Orestes Vilato, augmented by Joe Santiago (bass), Rebeca Mauleon (piano), Enrique Fernández, (saxophone/flute) and various vocalists. Released a year later as Rhythm At The Crossroads, the initial recording session featured a mixture of Cuban percussion workouts, Latin-jazz and funky salsa, with even a touch of calypso on one track. It was well received and went on to win the award for Best Latin Dance Of 1995 at that years Grammy Awards. 1996’s African Crossroads again featured Valdés, Quintana, Santiago and Fernández, with pianist Ivan ‘Melon’ Gonzalez and veteran drummer Walfredo de los Reyes Snr. among the new additions to the line-up. As the title suggests, the album also saw the sound broadening out to feature African elements. With US-based Senegalese multi-instrumentalist Abdou M’boup playing on some tracks and Zairian vocalist Samba Mapangala making a notable contribution on two songs. Another critical success, African Crossroads topped many Latin/world music writers Best Of 1996 polls.
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