Jungle Fire – Jambú (Jungle Fire Music/Nacional Records, 2016)
Los Angeles-based Afro-Latin funk band Jungle Fire is an outstanding collective of musicians from various backgrounds who have played with many well-known artists and musical styles. On their album Jambú, Jungle Fire delivers a sizzling genre-defying combination of Afrobeat, funk, cumbia, Latin jazz, West Coast Latin rock, makossa, and more, featuring an irresistible rhythm section and potent brass section.
The line-up includes Joseph “Joey” Reina on bass; Jud McDaniel on guitar and bass; Patrick Bailey on guitars; bass and Korg MS-20; Sam Halterman on drums; Sam Robles on baritone saxophone; Otto Granillo on trombone; Sean Billings on trumpet; Alberto López on congas, timbales, batá drums, cajón, güiro, flor tom, guacho, guagua, llamador, Moroccan bongo, guijada, qraqeb (karkabas); claps and vocals; Michael Duffy on timbales, bongos, bongó cowbell and claps; Steve Haney on congas, bongó, batá, shekere, güiro, trash lid and tambourine. Special guests: Sandino González-Flores on vocals and Natalia González on vocals.
Inberoamerican Music Expo (EXIB) organizers were forced to move the outdoor showcase venues to the historic Teatro Garcia de Resende. The beautiful renovated theater turned out to be an excellent space to experience the live performances.
The first act on stage was La Colectiva Corazón, a multinational group of graduates from the Berklee College of Music – Valencia, Spain Campus. The collective plays what they describe as cumbia fusion. Bear in mind that it’s Chilean cumbia along with guajiras, boleros, funk, Andean music, and pop. Think of Chico Trujillo mixed with Manu Chao.
The slow dance beat immediately got members of the audience dancing (primarily women). The band brought a dance party atmosphere to Teatro Garcia de Resende and the performance was very well received.
La Colectiva Corazon was created by Chilean composer, vocalist and percussionist Gonzalo Eyzaguirre. The ensemble includes musicians from Puerto Rico, Slovenia, Ecuador, Colombia, Italy and the United States. La Colectiva just released its debut album titled “Viajero.”
The band included Gonzalo Eyzaguirre on vocals, charango and percussion; Travis Smilen on electric guitar; Sebastián Laverde on congas; Carlos Llido on drums and timbales; Eric Benavent on saxophone; Alfonso Benavent on trumpet; and Javier Giner Garrido on bass.
The second act was Portuguese singer-songwriter and guitarist Luiz Caracol. He’s a talented artist who combines the rhythms of Portugal with jazz and the music of African countries, Brazil and the sounds of Jorge Drexler.
Luiz Caracol has a captivating laid back song style supported by his rhythmic electric guitar and a fabulous rhythm section that includes a percussionist from Brazil and a West African drummer.
Caracol was born in Elvas right after his parents arrived from newly independent Angola, where they had lived before the African nation became independent. Luiz Caracol released his first album, Devagar, in 2013. Devagar includes special guest performances by Fernanda Abreu, Sara Tavares and Valete. He’s currently recording his new album titled Metade, scheduled for release later this year, in 2016.
Concert lineup: Luiz Caracol on guitar and vocals; Chico Santos on bass; Miroca Paris on drums; and Ruca Rebordão on percussion.
Mexico was represented by vocalist Zaira Franco. Zaira’s show crossed numerous musical boundaries. She was accompanied by a rock band and delivered a mix of Mexican music, boleros, funk, Afro Cuban sounds and rock. The band’s electric guitar player was impressive, releasing fiery solos using various types of techniques. At one time, Zaira’s band went into full blown progressive rock. Zaira Franco presented her latest album, Tumbalá.
Showcase lineup: Zaira Franco on vocals; Mario Patrón on piano; Federico Erik Negrete on bass; Alfredo Martínez on guitar; Fausto Aguilar on drums; and Luis Manuel García on percussion.
The fourth act was truly spectacular. Undoubtedly, the highlight of the entire event. C4 Trio is an award-winning ensemble of three Venezuelan cuatro players along with a bassist.
C4 Trio are highly skilled musicians who demonstrated virtuosity, creativity and delivered a captivating and fun show featuring ensemble pieces, solos and interplay. The repertoire included Venezuelan folk songs as well as pop standards played at dazzling speeds. The group received repeated standing ovations and was the only act that came back for an encore.
The C4 Trío lineup included Jorge Glem on cuatro; Héctor Molina on cuatro; Edward Ramírez on cuatro; and Gustavo Márquez on bass.
The closing act was 78 year old Brazilian vocalist and guitarist Dona Jandira. The charismatic performer started her career in 2004 after she met producer José Dias.
Lineup: Dona Jandira on vocals and guitar; José Dias Guimaraes de Almeida on bass and Eugenio de Castro Ribeiro on violin.
Headline photo: La Colectiva Corazón, courtesy of EXIB Música
The 26th edition of the Rudolstadt Festival will feature Colombia as the focus country. Ten bands will showcase the cultural contrasts and traditions that stem from its indigenous, African and Spanish heritage. Rudolstadt Festival will take place July 7-10, 2016.
Cumbia is one of the best known genres from Colombia. Colombian band Sidestepper has reinvented itself and its new musical direction replaces electronic sound with a new simplicity and more acoustic instruments. Sidestepper’s latest recording is Supernatural Love (Real World Records, 2016)
For a more traditional approach of cumbia with accordion, Carmelo Torres will perform at Rudolstadt Colombian harp master Edmar Castañeda, Afro-Colombian flutist Sixto Silgado “Paíto”; Profetas; Rancho Aparte; Retrovisor, M.A.K.U. Soundsystem, Carmelo Torres y su cumbia sabanera, Las Áñez & Martha Hincapie.
Cuban singer Addys D’Mercedes grew up in Oriente, the southern, rural part of Cuba. At local parties she heard her father playing sones and guajiras on the guitar, such as El Cuarto De Tula or El Carretero”, which now have become popular worldwide thanks to the success of the Buena Vista Social Club. The radio played songs of the Nueva Trova from Pablo Milanés, Silvio Rodríguez and Sara Gonzáles, Dominican merengues, Mexican rancheras and the latest songs from Madona and Michael Jackson.
As a young girl, Addys sang boleros and Nueva Trova songs at parties. At the age of 16 she became the lead singer of the group Onda Joven, in Moa. One year later she started her professional career as lead singer of several famous Cuban groups Los Neira, Timbre Latino and Spectrum.
In January 1999, Addys started to record with her group ¡Q´ba! in Havana. As a tribute to her Oriente roots, she sung her own new arrangements of the three very famous songs El Carretero, Capullito De Alelí and Como Fue, featuring Coto (Cubanismo) on tres.
In September of 1999 she recorded in Havana a set of nine original compositions with ¡Q´ba! inviting musicians from Afro Cuban All Stars and Jóvenes Clásicos del Son. Unlike what is common in Cuba, the recording had a wide range of Spanish American musical styles, Cuban styles like son, timba, guajira and cha cha cha alternate with salsa, cumbia, bolero and bachata. On the guajira No Me Abandones the 76-year-old singer Raúl Plana (Afro Cuba All Stars, Sonora Matanzera) sings a duo with Addys.
Fascinated by her warm voice, Cándido Fabré recorded with Addys the very popular duo La Fórmula in the summer of 2000.
I‘ve long asserted that Latin music was the first “world” music to make its way into the mainstream. Arguable though that may be, there’s no doubting the variety of what can rightly be labeled Latin nowadays. Part of the reason for such variety is how the music has evolved; another is recognizing how much variety there was to begin with.
Vintage Latino (Putumayo, 2015) is a various-artists collection that steers clear of overly familiar names (no Tito, Tito or Machito to be found) and earns extra points for featuring some that were around in the early days as well as contemporary musicians keeping the classic sound alive.
So it is that the love songs of old time Cubans like Trio Melodicos and the rural roots of Venezuela’s Simon Diaz fit comfortably alongside contemporary revivers like the utterly charming Las Rubias del Norte from the U.S. and France’s excellent Republique Democratique Du Mambo. And if the best of both worlds is your thing, check the seamlessly splendid combination of Uruguay’s late great Lagrima Rios and acclaimed Argentinian composer Gustavo Santaolalla on the candombe-flavored “Un Cielo Para Los Dos.” Each of the 12 tracks is a gem, so count this one a must.
Should you be craving the sounds of a Brooklyn-based Mexican brass band, that craving will be more than satisfied by Banda de Los Muertos on their self-titled release (Barbes Records, 2015). Founded and led by Oscar Noriega and Jacob Garchik, veterans of jazz and classical music, Banda de Los Muertos’ brass and reeds attack is not just rousingly good fun. It’s also an impressive display of great musicians doing their thing.
The intertwined trumpets, trombones, alto horn, sousaphone and clarinets (plus a solid backbone of drums) are loaded with traditional Mexican flavors and sport nuances ample enough to appeal to fans of jazz, klezmer and big band music. And no hard feelings if you don’t dig the band’s instrumental cover of Marty Robbins’ “El Paso” or the sexy, husky guest vocals by Mireya Ramos, though some serious self-examination might be in order.
Thoroughly modern but with a clear understanding of age-old grooves, Empresarios out of Washington D.C. give us The Vibes (Empresarios Musica, 2015) a hot mash of cumbia, reggae, dub, house, jazzy experimentation and hip hop. They combine real and programmed rhythms as deftly as they shift from sung to rapped vocals, and their subject matter likewise ranges from self-referencing celebration to social consciousness.
A thinking man’s party band, these guys likely won’t appeal to staunch Latin music purists. For everyone else, they definitely bring it. And the last two tracks (instrumentals “Rootsy Jam” and “Alegria”) are killer.
Southern Arizona-based band Xixa performs a mix of pop and rock inspired by chicha and even Tuareg desert blues. Most of their Bloodline album features pop-rock songs with retro 1960s surf guitars and early psychedelic music along with cumbia beats (Peruvian chicha is a psychedelic offshoot of Colombian cumbia). A perfect soundtrack for Quentin Tarantino’s movies.
The guitars and drums get more modern and interesting on “Down From the Sky,” featuring a heavy rock beat, Arabic guitar lines and hard rock riffs. Meanwhile, on “Pressures of Mankind” the group plays a zany type of Gypsy ska punk rock.
“All the Latin beats and rhythms are in your brain your whole life, so they make a lot of sense when you start playing them,” says Brian Lopez. “Latin music is part of Tucson’s sonic landscape.”
Xixa’s musicians include Brian Lopez, Gabriel Sullivan, Winston Watson, Geoff Hidalgo, Jason Urman and Efrén Cruz Chavez.
The artists scheduled to perform in 2016 La Linea Festival, London’s annual Latin music fest, include:
Sunday 24 April at Koko
Criolo, One of Brazil’s most acclaimed songwriter/performers. He draws influence from his love of samba, afrobeat and reggae and takes lyrical inspiration from his beginnings in a favela in Sao Paulo.
Monday 25 April at Barbican
Calexico’s latest project draws fresh influence from Mexico City.
Wednesday 27 April at Electric Ballroom
Chico Trujillo, Chile’s leading cumbia band. Chico Trujillo mixes classic cumbia, Chilean traditional musical forms rock and ska.
Friday 22 April at Rich Mix
From Buenos Aires, La Yegros is a popular digital cumbia act.
Friday 29 January at Rich Mix
Bixiga 70 is a ten-piece band from Sao Paulo. They combine Brazilian percussion sounds with Afrobeat.
The World Music Album of the Year nominees for the 2016 JUNO Awards were announced by The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) at a press conference at The Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto on February 2, 2016. Juno Award winners will be announced during Juno Week in Calgary, March 28 – April 3, 2016.
The Souljazz Orchestra is a multicultural ensemble based in Ottawa, Ontario. The group combines soul, jazz, African, Latin American and Caribbean styles, using a brass section and a wide variety of percussion.
Resistance adds a French Caribbean and Francophone West African influences such as coupé-décalé, zouk, and ndombolo.
The Souljazz Orchestra’s discography includes Freedom No Go Die (2006) and Manifesto (2008) set the bar high. Rising Sun (2010), Solidarity (2012) and Inner Fire (2014).
The Lemon Bucket Orkestra
Toronto-based The Lemon Bucket Orkestra is described as Canada’s only Balkan-klezmer-gypsy-party-punk-superband. The group got started as a street busking band in 2010. The original quartet grew into a much larger ensemble that uses brass and bows. World tour followed.
Moorka was recorded in a friend’s barn in Waterloo right after their three month Canadian tour and was released in March 2015. It includes re-worked folk songs the band learned in Romania, Ukraine, Serbia and Macedonia from local musicians on their last European tour, each tune modified with a blend of funk, punk, psychedelia, blues and swing.
Gypsy Kumbia Orchestra
The Gypsy Kumbia Orchestra, from Montreal, fuses Afro-Colombian music and dance, with the brass and violin melodies of Eastern Europe. The group’s shows bring together live music, choreographed dance, circus, theatrical staging and dynamic audience interaction. Revuelta Danza Party is the Gypsy Kumbia Orchestra’s debut album.
Boogat is based in Quebec City, Quebec. He’s a Latin American vocalist, who continually reinvents himself with his plentiful discography. His style is described as a mix of worldbeat and tropical-bass. Some of his songs have attracted Hollywood, including placements in the TV series Homeland, and the film, The Forger, with John Travolta. Neo-Reconquista is his latest recording.
Vocalist Alex Cuba was born in Cuba and currently lives in British Columbia. His style has gradually changed from Cuban roots music and soul to pop. Healer is a pop and Spanish-language R&B album.
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