Putumayo Presents: Cafe Cubano
First Appeared in The Music Box, November 2008, Volume 15, #11
Written by John Metzger
Sat November 22, 2008, 09:30 AM CST
While listening to Café Cubano, the latest compilation from Putumayo, it is impossible to resist being swept away to paradise on a Caribbean island. On all 10 of its tracks, the rhythms roll seductively beneath the rest of the instrumentation. The result is a relaxing atmosphere that is perfect for lazing beneath the hot, summer sun.
Cuba, Putumayo’s first aggregation of Cuban-oriented fare, was issued in 1999. Coming directly in the wake of Ry Cooder’s overwhelmingly successful collaboration with the Buena Vista Social Club, the endeavor quickly became the label’s biggest-selling album. Its companion set Café Cubano has been overdue for quite some time now, but at least the wait was worth enduring. To put it simply, Café Cubano presents an overview of the Cuban music scene that is as magnificent as its predecessor.
Although it lacks the punchy fury of the material that typically fills Cuba’s many nightclubs, it would be a mistake to view the laid-back ambience of Café Cubano for a lack of inspiration. Its music may be more subtle, but the outing has proven to be a remarkably intoxicating affair. The horns don’t splash aggressively against the rolling rhythms; instead, they playfully caress them, dancing around as well as through the guitar chords and assorted percussive effects.
Rock fans, of course, immediately will recognize the grooves that lie at the heart of the improvisational sojourns within the canons of Santana and Los Lobos. Instead of eye-popping flashiness, however, the material on Café Cubano strikes an elegantly organic pose. There may be more exhaustive surveys of Cuban-born fare on the market, but in terms of providing a thoroughly inviting introduction to the island-nation’s richly diverse music scene, there are few collections that can rival Café Cubano’s concision or its perfection.
Of Further Interest...
Putumayo Presents: Café Cubano is available
from Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2008 The Music Box