How could any music lover forget it: Ry Cooder’s ensemble, Buena Vista Social Club. In 1997, millions of people worldwide were enthralled by its traditional Cuban rhythms. Recording location: the 75-year-old Estudio Areita in Havana. Now, in the same studio, a young band has recorded their debut album: the Orquesta Akokán (West African for “from the heart”). With their big band arrangements, the group evokes the Latin jazz spirit of Duke Ellington and the energy of the “King of Mambo” Pérez Prado. A dozen musicians from the USA and Cuba were involved in the first Spanish language album on soul label Daptone Records. The songs, recorded with great attention to detail, are dominated by sharp wind and crisp percussion – the warm production breathes the spirit of the fifties. A little variation would have done the album good – you aren’t going to find a slow rumba here – but there is no lack of furious Son and Mambo, classical but with great serenity.


Orquesta Akokán (Daptone Records)

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