Tuned In To Music

Reflections from a lifetime

Review: Various Artists, Afro Cuban Kaleidoscope

“Afro Cuban Kaleidoscope” is a collection of 14 tracks culled from several record labels associated with Fania Records, the primary record company associated with salsa music afro cubanin the 1960s and ’70s.  The CD was put together by Snowboy, a DJ and percussionist specializing in Latin jazz and dance music in the UK.  In his liner notes he writes that much of this music was unavailable in the UK until an extensive reissue campaign in Venezuela made most of the Fania catalog available on vinyl in 1989.  He writes that tracks were chosen for this collection because of their rarity. 

I don’t know enough about this type of music to know if the cuts on “Afro Cuban Kaleidoscope” are as rare as claimed, nor am I able to evaluate whether this collection compares favorably with other collections of salsa and Latin dance music from the same period that are available.  I do know that many of the selections here are blisteringly hot.  As often as not, these guys tear the place up.  Too bad Snowboy and the producers of the collection didn’t condescend to tell us who they are.  We are told who the band’s leader is for each track and some of the tracks are live recordings where the leader introduces the members of the band, but that’s it.  There’s also no recording info whatsoever other than a list of the albums on which the tracks appeared.  Shame about that.

Listed musicians include Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri, Cal Tjader, and Bobby Cruz among others.  Much of the music has a decided jazz influence which works very well in the context of the Latin rhythms that dominate the collection.  If you are interested in hearing the salsa music that hit it big in New York in the 1970s “Afro Cuban Kaleidoscope” seems a good choice although the lack of info about the individual musicians can be frustrating if you turn on to a particular percussion, horn or piano solo and want to follow up on the musician.  Listeners who are familiar with salsa can check out the track listing and see if the rarity of the tracks justifies adding the CD to their collection.

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06/30/2007 - Posted by | CD reviews, music, music reviews

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