In the first instalment of what will hopefully be a long-running series, Cal Jader, one of the people behind the great Movimientos collective, has chosen some of his favourite records from the first half of 2011.
Various Artists – Sofrito Tropical Discoteque (Strut)
After several years building their reputation as purveyors of the very highest quality old school tropical vinyl, and releasing some excellent 12″s and edits, the Sofrito boys finally drop their first full length compilation on the ever impressive Strut records. The album brings together tried-and-tested dancefloor treats from sublime Highlife to Soca disco and funky Rumba jams and is a veritable treasure trove of rare tunes. The wonderful thing is that listened here in one go the continental boundaries are broken down and it gives you a great insight into the unshakeable connection between Caribbean, Latin American and African music. And of course though nearly all the tracks here are fantastic to dance to they all stand up to listen at home too.
Sofrito Tropical Discotheque is available via Amazon and iTunes
Empresarios – Sabor Tropical (Fort Knox)
New York’s Empresarios are heralded by the Fort Knox Five crew and this album comes hotly anticipated following the lead track – and opener here – of the same name which brilliantly fuses Salsa rhythms with funky Hip Hop beats. “Pereo Intenso”‘s stab at Latino dancehall and the funky “Cumbia” are also killer tracks. The album doesn’t quite live up to the tantalising potential of the lead track, and the second half of the album meanders into dubby breaks and more of a chilled atmospheric vibe, but it’s definitely worth checking out, especially for fans of Nickodemus and Thievery Corporation.
Sabor Tropical is available from Amazon and iTunes.
Creole Choir of Cuba – Tande La (Real World)
The Creole Choir of Cuba also known by their Cuban name Desandann perform an extraordinary repertoire of songs descended from their ancestors from Haiti, Dominican Republic and, of course, Cuba. Their music is rich in tradition and even for non-Spanish or Creole speakers it manages to capture the diversity of emotions experienced by people twice exiled (first from Africa to Haiti, then Haiti to Cuba). The soaring harmonies led by both male and female singers are expertly complemented by vocal bass sounds and percussive elements. Brilliant on record but probably even better live!
Tande-La is available from Amazon and iTunes
Wara – Somewhereland (Independent EP)
Led by Cuban-Argentinian songwriter and arranger Eliane Correa, Wara have emerged as one of the freshest bands on London’s Latin scene, and with this 6 track EP have concocted a fascinating and uniquely London take on Cuban Funk. Throwing elements of Salsa, Timba, Zouk and Merengue alongside urban sounds like Reggaeton and Hip Hop but managing not to conform to one particular genre. “7am” brilliantly reconstructs the classic Lagrimas Negras in a Dubstep rhythm whilst the title track combines lilting soul with Cuban Timba. Its an uplifting listen and great to hear such creativity alive in the London Latin music scene.
CD Available via the Cuba Solidarity Campaign website.