In this round-up of hits from Jesus AlemaÑy and company's four Hannibal/Rykodisc releases, Cubanismo manages to run the gamut of subgenres within Cuban music and extrapolate from beyond.
In this round-up of hits from Jesus Alemañy and company's four Hannibal/Rykodisc releases, Cubanismo manages to run the gamut of subgenres within Cuban music and extrapolate from beyond. From the instrumental big-band mambo of "Mambo UK" to the cha-cha-cha of "Aprovecha," Cubanismo punctuates much of its excellent renditions with jazzy improvisation (with flutist Orlando Valle "Maraca" and trumpeter Luis Alemañy among the soloists), although most tracks irresistibly point straight to the dancefloor. But Cubanismo is most distinctive when it blends English and Spanish and Cuban son with American blues and jazz—a very tough thing to do persuasively—in "Paso en Tampa" and "Marie Laveaux," both tracks from the album Mardi Gras Mambo. Ironically, the vibe weakens when reggae is added to the equation: "Get Up, Stand Up," even with Ernest Ranglin guesting on guitar, sounds like a pale version of Tower of Power over a reggae beat.—LC