Far removed from his usual Latin jazz releases, 2002's Cantos a los Orishas focuses on the other side of percussionist Francisco Aguabella. The title translates to "Songs for the Orishas," or the gods of Afro-Cuban Santeria religious practice. These 11 tracks, performed by Aguabella on bata (the sacred drums of this tradition) with a percussion and voice ensemble, Sus Tambores Bata named with Aguabella, who are strictly known for their Cuban music, with no American jazz influences at all. The captivating, hypnotic polyrhythms (known as bembe) and chanted vocals sound even to the world music novice like ceremonial music; the mood is solemn, though never dirge-like or bleak, and celebratory throughout. This CD release combines five older recordings previously released on small-circulation cassettes with six brand-new tracks.
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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason