April 14, 2011

Alexander Abreu Y Havana D'Primera | Haciendo Historia

ARTIST:  Alexander Abreu Y Havana D’Primera
TITLE:  Haciendo Historia
LABEL:  Ahi-Nama
REVIEW:  The highly complex yet rhythmically propulsive style called timba dominated the Cuban popular music scene in the 1990’s.  Like similarly complex Congolese ndombolo and Senegalese mbalax, timba has been beloved at home but never traveled well at all.  More recently American-influenced reggaeton and hip hop have eclipsed timba’s popularity in Cuba, but here’s a fine record that harkens back to the glory days of bands like Los Van Van, NG La Banda and La Charanga Habanera.  Abreu excels here in all of his hats -- he’s the primary composer, arranger, lead singer and lead soloist on trumpet.  Timba is ensemble music, however, so the true star here is the 11-piece band – they whip through these ultra-tricky charts like the best jazz musicians without ever forgetting that, at least by the end of each song, you’ve got to make it work for the dancers.  This is dance music at its most sophisticated, like what jazz would have evolved into if it hadn’t turned into sit-down-and-listen music.  Excellent stuff.
REVIEWER:  Bill Lupoletti
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