Various Artists

Cult Music of Cuba [Recorded by B.H. Curlander]

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Recorded in Havana, Guanbacoa, and the Matanzas region by Harold Courlander and a group of American researchers in 1940, Cult music of Cuba stands as a relatively early compilation of sacred Afro-Cuban ritual music. Four main Afro-Cuban religious sects (or "cults") are discussed in the album's notes: the Lucumí, the Arará, the Abakwá, and the Kimbísa. Among these four, it is the Lucumí who are featured on the majority of the album's 11 cuts. Originally from the West African region that now sits between the Togo-Benin border and the Niger River, the they embrace a complex religious superstructure that includes a panoply of deities, or "Orishas." Of particular note among the many stellar cuts is the album's tenth track, "Song to Chango." It is a driving excerpt from a longer string of invocations that are sung for the Orisha of thunder and lightening, Chango. Today, such artists as Francisco Aguabella and Los Muñequitos de Matanzas continue to keep religiously infused Afro-Cuban music on center stage. All in all, Cult music of Cuba is an exceptional set of songs performed by musicians who -- for a reason not mentioned by Courlander -- remain nameless in the liner notes.

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