Orquesta Aragón

Cha Cha Charanga

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Aragon are the premier active charanga band to come from Cuba, and they prove their mettle on this incredible disc of bubbling dance rhythms, soaring strings, and great singing. Violinist Lazaro Gonzalez Sibore and cellist Alejandro Tomas Valdes are the principals who provide the distinct string sound prevalent in charanga, with lead vocalist Juan Carlos Villegas leading a multi-vocal charge through these ten precious tunes. An interactive ensemble sounding larger than they are, Aragon puts out sheets of sound from vocal, percussive, and string sections while flutes dart in and out of the pieces. This is the essence of the charanga, and this grand combo plays it to the hilt. American audiences will immediately pick up on the "Guantanamera"-like strains of "Son de la Loma," very much following the tone and style of the most famous of all Afro-Cuban tunes. The band can cook in steamy-hot fashion, as they do during "Me Quede con la Gorde," but they specialize in a steady, consistent slow burn that's best typified by the beautiful dance of "Dale Contracandela." If the style and stance of Aragon aren't compellingly infectious, you have yet to catch the fever. Included in the liner notes are helpful tips on how to dance to these tunes. Time and time again they lead the way for this type of music, and though there are some parallel bands, none do it like Aragon. Highly recommended, especially as an entry point to new listeners of Latin-jazz and Afro-Cuban expressionism.

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