Various Artists

Putumayo Presents: Latin Party

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Some compilations don't really live up to what their titles advertise. A compilation might bill itself as metal-oriented when the material barely qualifies as hard rock; or, it might bill itself as '50s doo wop when the selections have more to do with '50s rockabilly. But Putumayo Presents: Latin Party really does deliver what its title promises. This is Latin music that is also party music, and a festive mood prevails throughout this 48-minute CD. Of course, the term "Latin music" can mean a wide variety of things; Latin music is everything from Mexican norteño to Brazilian samba to Venezuelan joropo. But in the case of Putumayo Presents: Latin Party, Latin usually means tropical. Afro-Cuban salsa is a prominent ingredient on many of the tracks, including Luis Mangual's "Son de Nueva York," Cecilia Noel's "Así Se Compone un Son," Mas Bajo's "Rico Montuno," and the Brooklyn Funk Essentials' "Big Apple Boogaloo" (which favors the sort of Latin jazz/boogaloo groove associated with Pucho & His Latin Soul Brothers). But Colombian-style cumbia is the orientation on Fruko's "Cumbia del Caribe," while the Kumbia Kings' "Mi Gente" combines elements of cumbia, funk, and reggae. And a salsa/ska hybrid prevails on Ska Cubano's intriguing arrangement of the Afro-Cuban standard "Yiri Yiri Bon." Nonetheless, Putumayo Presents: Latin Party isn't quite as far-reaching stylistically as it could have been. The disc could have been even more diverse if Putumayo had strayed from the tropical orientation more and included, for example, some Mexican banda or Afro-Brazilian music (both of which could have fit in with the party mood). But even so, this disc achieves a fair amount of stylistic diversity while remaining true to its basic theme -- and it does so with selections that are generally solid and in some cases, excellent.

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