Afrosalsa (Lusafrica, 2000): 8 tracks, 35 minutes
This CD features some of the ‘most famous’ hits of contemporary African dance music, produced, arranged and recorded by José Louis Cortes (director of NG La Banda). The musicians and vocalists appear to be regular members of NG La Banda, even though the music is not the usual fare offered up by that leading Cuban formation. The outcome in any event may be summed up in one word: sensational! An irresistible swing throughout, with superb vocals (especially by Jenisel Valdes).
What a pity that this CD is only 35 minutes – but at least every minute counts! 6 of the tracks are versions of relatively well-known hits by West Africans – 2 by Meiway (Côte d’Ivoire), another 2 by Oliver N’Goma (Gabon), and one each by Cesaria Evora and Téofilo Chantre (both from Cape Verde).
The remaining 2 are a short but memorable version of Miriam Makeba’s ‘Pata pata’, and an eminently danceable ‘Yow mi’, a track new to me by someone equally unknown – Boy Marone. The liner notes are regrettably silent on useful background information, and puritanical and politically correct North Americans may dislike the cover photo, a fine example of Euro-sexism à la française, eloquently confirmed inside. However, this should not deter ‘TWAS readers, for whom Latin dance’s sexual connotations are, I am sure, a worn cliché, from checking out this commendable musical fusion.
Listen to samples and buy the CD in North America
Author: William Bain
William Bain wrote these reviews while he was host of ‘Chimes of Freedom’ on CFFF/ Trent Radio (Peterborough, Ontario, Canada)