Afro-Cuban All Stars

Step Forward: The Next Generation

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The Afro-Cuban All Stars are back with a bold new statement for the future. They look boldly toward the horizon with their fourth release, Step Forward: The Next Generation. As the best-publicized "multi-generational" group in the genre, the All Stars may have the best claim of knowledge for what is to come, housing both living legends and tomorrow's heavy hitters. However, the generally mellow timbre of the record would suggest that perhaps the leadership of the group is not looking to the horizon for inspiration, but watching the sunset. The groove of the record is confident and funky, and at times very swinging. However, the boastful title may mislead loyal fans. There are moments that feel distinctly like a walk down memory lane, not through the blistering-hot creative forge. That said, leader Juan de Marcos González has a playlist that is sure to please, packed with delightful musical moments. The record is a tapestry of styles that have found their way through the Cuban transom, including the sensual bolero "Preludio y Fuga," the stately danzon "Glicy's Mood," and "Addimu a Chango," a funky disco/songo mix. Though the Afro-Cuban All Stars clearly don't have their ear to the street or finger on the pulse of the next generation, they do what they always have, and they do it quite well.

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