Various Artists

The Rough Guide to Afro-Cuba: Continental Drift - Explosive Musical Connection

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Here is an anthology that has been needed for some time. A brief, concise, yet deep and authoritative collection of music that goes further than paying lip service to the Afro-Cuban connection. Here the continental differences are erased in a widespread look at cross-pollination and cultural miscegenation. The great glory of this collection is that it does not solely focus on the Africa to Cuba connection. Instead, its 14 cuts show the exportation of African rhythms to Cuba and the return of song forms like the son and bolero back to Africa. Beginning in Africa with Cheikh N'Digël Lô and Ricardo Lemvo & Makina Loca and then slipping to a mixed track with Quartetto Patria with the saxophone athletics of Manu Dibango, the story is told first in rhythm and more rhythm. Shifting, changing beats and accents offer all of the erratic foundations needed for love songs and the telling of village stories. When the disc begins to make its move to Cuba, it first features the blood-red rhumbas of Sierra Maestra, a band that embodies both places in its mix without discriminating. Later, the Afro-Cuban All Stars, Patato, and even the hot jumping sons of the Septeto Nacional Ignacio Piñeiro intertwine with the music of the Super Eagles and the slippery Orchestra Baobab, exchanging enunciations, harmonies, and all manners of call and response as well as rhythm. This is a steaming volume, digging so deep into the beach soil of these two places that it's a wonder they are untied by geography instead of by the pain of the slave trade from five hundred years ago. They are brothers in rhythm, sisters in song. This is an essential volume for any serious world music library.

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