Latino Groove

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Fusing dance-pop and Latin music is something that has been going on for a long time. Back in the '70s, there were plenty of disco artists (both American and European) who incorporated Latin rhythms. Then, in the '80s and '90s, that dance-pop/Latin fusion received the electronic, high-tech treatment from Latin freestyle artists like Exposé and the Cover Girls. Released in 2002, the Latino Groove project combines Latin and dance-pop/club elements without being either totally electronic or totally acoustic. High-tech programming is a tool in Latino Groove's arsenal, but so are honest-to-God instruments that include Afro-Cuban percussion and cuatro guitar. The end result is a CD that is experimental and chance-taking but sounds more organic than a lot of similar efforts. The disc is consistently club-friendly, but it lacks the stiff, mechanical qualities that can plague this type of project -- and the people who can take credit for that include Estaire Godinez (a female singer and percussionist who handles all of the lead vocals), DJ Free (the producer who founded the Chanhassen, MN-based Soulfood label), and producer/bassist/keyboardist Tom Peterson (not to be confused with the Tom Petersson who has been playing bass for Cheap Trick since the early '70s). These three artists are the main participants, and all of them do their part to make the album as diverse and unpredictable as it is. Together, Latino Groove's participants combine dance-pop and club music with Afro-Cuban salsa as well as Brazilian samba and Spanish flamenco. Some of the material even shows an awareness of modern African pop, which makes perfect sense because Latin and African music have often influenced one another. This CD isn't perfect -- some of the ideas work better than others -- but more often than not, the participants' risk-taking pays off.

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