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!Afrocubanismo Live!

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01
Anabis
7:50
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02
Cha Cha Cha
9:07
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03
Neurosis
11:57  
04
Rumba Tonada
4:49
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05
Estella A Las Estrellas
10:14  
06
Building Bridges
8:44
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07
Xiomara
9:30
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Album Information
LIVE

Total Tracks: 7   Total Length: 62:11

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They Say All Music Guide

These live-in-concert performances from the first Afrocubanismo Festival at the Banff Center in Alberta, Canada have Irakere as the core group, for the most part, with special guests sitting in. One studio recording done during the festival, “Rumba Tonada,” is from the folkloric vocal-percussion Grupo Ilu Ana, who also performed there. The rest feature pianist Chucho Valdes and Irakere, with the original members as drummer Enrique Pla, electric bassist Carlos del Puerto, and saxophonist Carlos Averhoff, plus two newer arrivals, saxophonist Cesar Lopez and trumpeter Juan Mungia. The band is crackling with excitement off the bat with “Anabis,” a red-hot samba/jazz amalgam with Valdes amazing as usual. “Cha Cha Cha” has the supremely confident but never overbearing flute master Richard Egues and the steady, virile timbales veteran Changuito (from Los Van Van) joining, plus Mungia and Cesar Lopez singing. Valdes and Egues playfully trade fours back and forth, quoting “London Bridge Is Falling Down.” Lopez joins on alto sax and “Anga” Diaz on conga drums as Irakere plays the scorching 12-minute bopper “Neurosis,” with horns interacting and conversing amongst themselves, and the percussionists doing the same; Valdes quotes “Oleo” during his solo. The pianist echoes shades of “I Hear a Rhapsody” on his intro of “Estella a las Estrellas,” then goes to a more midtempo groove, with Changuito, Anga and Pla getting a workout. Then a Cuba-Canadian summit is convened on “Building Bridges,” a happy, steamy samba led by Canadian flute player Bill McBirnie which also features usual bassist/pianist Don Thompson, on vibes! Mungia’s lead solo is quite piquant, but McBirnie steals the spotlight; his improvs rival Egues, Maraca, Dave Valentin or Johnny Pacheco. Then Valdes gets a montuno riff started, and the band goes into a counterpointed frenzy for all to frolic with, especially the percussionists and Memo Acevedo on drums. The grand finale has Irakere, Ilu Ana, and folkloric icons Los Munequitos de Matanzas, themselves 13 pieces strong of percussionists, singers and dancers, all on stage at once (25 musicians total) for the classic “Xiomara.” This is where audio only restricts the pure joy; a CD-ROM video addition would have been a nice touch. As it is, the colors exuded by these great musicians come through, with Munequito Rafael “Nino” Navarro leading the introductory chant; Irakere then hits with the piece’s familiar R&B-flavored riff, and they cook on it for nine minutes of sheer delight. Hopefully, a second volume of these historic and potent musical collaborations is in the offing. Highly recommended, and really an essential document for where this movement has been and will be headed. – Michael G. Nastos

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