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Review: Putumayo Presents Rumba, Mambo, Cha Cha Cha; and Renaud Garcia-Fons, Méditerranées

Putumayo Presents
Rumba Mambo Cha Cha Cha
[Putumayo (2011)]

These three forms of music and dance, which all have their roots in Cuba, mostly came in vogue among North American ballroom dancers in the 1950s. Since then the genres have ebbed and flowed in popularity but have never completely gone away. The compiler of this excellent new Putuamayo release wisely chose mostly little-known artists, their tracks all recorded between 2000 and 2010. Only three of the ten artists are from Cuba (a relatively young group called Asere; flautist J. Joaquin Oliveros; and Tradicuba, who perform a “Potpourri de Cha Cha Cha”). Scotland is represented by Salsa Celtica, possibly the most internationally known group on the album. Two famous Pérez Prado hits are given fresh treatments. Colombia’s Fruko Y Sus Tesos perform the famous “Mambo #5,” which Prado made famous in 1949 and which became a hit again fifty years later for Lou Bega. Angel Meléndez and The 911 Mambo Orchestra from Chicago revive “Cereza Rosa,” Prado’s hit from 1955 which is also known as “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White.” Other equally fine groups are from Marseille, San Francisco, Belgium, and Russia.

—Paul E. Comeau (Comeauville, NS, Canada)

Renaud Garcia-Fons
[Enja Records (2011)]
Paris-based Renaud Garcia-Fons, one of the world’s most creative double bass players, has always been adept at creating an eclectic and innovative blend of European music. For his eighth album for the Enja label, Garcia-Fons gathered some of his musical friends who are masters at such dissimilar instruments as zither, accordion, bansuri, octobass, clarinet, and flamenco guitar, and undertook a musical voyage around the Mediterranean.
The first of eighteen tracks features a melody that evokes the Moorish past of Spain, the music reflective of both the occident and the orient. During the course of the journey, Garcia-Fons goes on to pay homage to a couple of Federicos, namely the Andalusian poet Garcia Lorca and the Italian filmmaker Fellini. A musical tip of the hat is also given to Barcelona, Rome, Iraklio (Crete), Dalmatia, and the Bosphorus strait among other ports of call. Garcia-Fons has consistently proven himself to be a class act and Méditerranées is no exception. This is the soundtrack for a luxury cruise  in your mind.
—Paul E. Comeau (Comeauville, NS. Canada)

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