Putumayo Presents: Latin Groove

Various Artists

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Putumayo Presents: Latin Groove Review

by Peggy Latkovich

Putumayo dips back into its vast treasure trove of Latin sounds, this time coming up with a collection of contemporary fusions of salsa, son, hip-hop, electronica, and jazz. The artists here are from areas as diverse as San Francisco, Marseilles, Nicaragua, and Stuttgart, proving the shaky maxim that if there really is a universal musical language, its accent is Latin. The sounds here are meaty and party-ready, with hefty doses of experimentation. Probably the boldest sonic explorer here is Funkanzazenji, a duo out of Lille in northern France. They combine hip-hop beats, flamenco palmas, harp, and Middle Eastern oud into a dancefloor mix that manages to be warm and danceable at the same time. El Conjunto Massalia's funky version of Compay Segundo's classic "Chan Chan" remains faithful to the spirit of the original while planting this chestnut firmly in the 21st century. Los Angeles band Ozomatli brings a message of social justice to its "Cumbia de los Muertos." The English-language rap by Chali 2na calls for an end to hatred and violence. It's all delivered over a deep, juicy blend of cumbia, reggae, and hip-hop. San Francisco's Los Mocosos' brash "Soy Callejero" is joyously in your face. Los Aterciopelados' "El Estuche" has a dark sensuality with its electronic beats and ghostly background vocals. The whole release hangs together quite well despite, or perhaps because of, its geographical diversity. A party's a party after all, and Putumayo has made it a mission to make sure the world's parties have a soundtrack.

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