Latin music in varied forms has gone global in the Twenty-first Century, in no small part thanks to Putumayo Music. Oh, and Shakira and Carlos Santana. Putumayo recently released their new CD, “Latin Beat”, showcasing rising stars of the Latin Pop, R&B and Salsa genres and it is an impressive collection.
The album opens with the Cuban band Moneda Dura, a band formed by two University of Havana students, singer/bassist Hugo Fernandez and singer/guitarist Nassiry Lugo. They have created a stylized Afro-Cuban rhythm to a Pop sound and on the song, “Goza” they incorporated vocals by Ibrahim Ferrer, who gained notoriety in the Buena Vista Social Club. It’s a great opening number for the disc, with a bright, alive sound from the first notes.
The Colombian band Profetas also turn in a strong number with “Chocolate”. This band was also formed by two musicians, but they were from very different parts of Bogota: Antombo Langangui offering an Afro-Latin beat played against Paul Fortitude’s hip-hop influence.
One of my favorite cuts on the album is “Locuraleza” by Jontre, from Medellin, with their use of clarinet, blending the traditional Colombian genre with a modern Pop Latin sound. I also am partial to “Guajira” by Grupo Lokito, a Twenty-first Century version of The Funkadelics. This UK based band creates a gumbo of Congolese, rumba, salsa and seben, soukous and Cuban son. Founded by pianist Sara McGuinness and Jose Hendrix Ndelo, they have a frontline of truly glitzy performers, just coming off a very popular and successful live tour that culminated at the London African Music Festival.
Other standouts on this eleven song compilation include “Echale Guarapo” by the Cuban band Edesio, short for wiz kid Edesio Alejandro Salva, a master of electronica who has worked on many television shows and movies and was nominated for a 2010 Latin Grammy as well as a 2011 American Grammy; the Ecuadorian band Sarazino plays “Pelo Shao”, an Afro-Latin reggae song by the band’s brainchild Lamine Fellah, who was born in Algeria, raised in Quito and attended college in Montreal, before returning to the Andes; Mariposa Solar turns in a nice performance, too, with “Bonita Mente-Bonita Suerte”, a song that fuses acoustic South American folk with bossa nova, funk, and cumbia, a unique blend, indeed; similarly, the Spanish band Digitano mixes gypsy flamenco with layers of synthetic effects on “Asi Sin Querer”.
And Latin music from New Zealand? That is precisely what you get with Sola Rosa, the stage name for Andrew Spraggon, a one-man band from Aukland that grew to four members and are currently touring Europe and the U.S. with their brand of hip-hop, funk and jazz to a Latin beat.
If I have a knock on this compilation, it is that of the eleven songs, seven of the bands are from Cuba or Colombia. I would like to have seen a little more diversity, but the presentation and all the songs are successful in their portrayal of the popularity of the Latin Beat in the Twenty-First Century.
Latin Beat is available at the Jaime Peligro bookstores in Playa Tamarindo, Quepos, and Nuevo Arenal, where they will gladly sample the music for their customers. Any comments concerning this article are welcome. Please check out our Facebook page at Tamarindo Jaime Peligro.