Si, Para Usted: The Funky Beats of Revolutionary Cuba, Vol. 1

Various Artists

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Si, Para Usted: The Funky Beats of Revolutionary Cuba, Vol. 1 Review

by John Bush

Post-revolutionary Cuba isn't the first place to look for the influence of American funk and psychedelic experimentation, but Dan Zacks of the Waxing Deep radio show makes the case -- with the music he selects here and his informed liner notes -- that Cuba produced its fair share of free-form music in the '70s and '80s. Zacks sets the story in a Cuba that subsidized music schools and paid all proficient musicians a stable salary, then watched as they demonstrated their new smarts on releases for EGREM, Cuba's sole record label. From the sound of it, nothing was verboten musically, from the usual funk staples (wah-wah and fuzztone guitars and chunky electric bass) to heavy electronics to freewheeling instrumental passages (although, of course, Cuban and Afro-Cuban is the backbone of everything heard here). Cuba's most famous bands, Orquesta Riverside, Irakere and Los Van Van, appear here, but some of the best tracks come from producer Juan Pablo Torres and his Algo Nuevo band. (The title track from Grupo Monumental is another one to check out.) While Zacks seems to admit that this type of music was recorded only rarely, the tracks that appear here have to be heard by the fans of Palmieri, Colón, Harlem River Drive, Ocho, and Grupo Folklorico y Experimental Nuevayorquino -- and, best of all, the title seems to point to further volumes.

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