Afro Cuban Jazz Project- “Campina” (from Putamayo Presents: Cuba)

Downloaded from a disc I borrowed from the Kaimuki Public Library (in hopes of diversifying a music library swollen with British rock bands from the 1960’s). Aside from one great world blues comp, I’ve found the Putamayo collections have little to write home (or write a Fig Jam) about. A non-aggressive, evenly recorded song--something your average amateur salsa enthusiast would find palatable--from a group of of technically proficient players. Perfectly colorless and perfectly suitable as background music.        

5,478 stars out of 10,856 stars.
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Afro Cult Foundation- “The Quest” (from Nigeria 70: The Definitive Story of 1970’s Funky Lagos)

“The Quest” evokes all the urban sophistication of the city that codified the sound patterns for afro funk. Beginning with a solo jazz horn, this instrumental is elevated by the mantra-like repetition of a bass-clav, less an improvisation than a complex soul riff. Under “The Quest’s” cool hypnosis, I hardly realized I’d been dancing for most of the track’s duration. The solo horn returns to the forefront after six minutes or so, laying out a long spacey coda that allows to you think about things for awhile. Like: If “The Quest” exists, how do bands like American Music Club justify their careers?        

1,463,582 stars out of 1,547,326 stars.
The Aggrovators - King Tubby’s in Fine Style, Disc 2

I’m hardly qualified to speak with any authority on these recordings (see the “Campina” Fig Jam from a page back). The majority of the tracks begin with the standard reggae drum vamp, inevitably followed by varying degrees of reverb over the vocals, the stringed instruments, and the percussion. In several songs, the likeness of an echo-soaked explosion bursts from in between the beats--whether the intent of these explosions is to disrupt the groove or make some thematic point, I wouldn’t be able to say. I can say, though, that each of these songs as they progress grow more intense and chilling, so that the vocals and their ghostly arrangements inspire a sense of paranoia rather than good vibes. My palette’s just not developed enough to tell you if this is mediocre reggae or the best stuff out there. Check it out for yourself. 

5,556 stars out of 8,453 stars.
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