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Ska Cubano

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Album Review

Natty Bo, the frontman of Ska Cubano, had a great idea: why not mix traditional Jamaican ska and Cuban music? After all, they're Caribbean neighbors with a common link of black music. Yet in many ways the two styles are so dissimilar that they shouldn't work. But they do. Recorded in Santiago de Cuba (rather than Havana), the — mostly uncredited — musicians get a strong ska groove on a mix of originals and some Cuban classics, like Oscar Calle's "Chango," for example, or Machito's "Relax and Mambo." It's a meeting of minds and feet here which spills easily between two islands and cultures, providing something for everyone. So too does the interpretation of "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?," which crackles with inspired soloing as the musicians let loose. Counter-rhythms loosen up the ska offbeat throughout the disc, and the musicians sound as if the Skatalites had decided to jam with Castro's finest in the 1960s — high praise for a ska disc. It's adventurous, a little loopy (but in the very best way), and every note is thoroughly enjoyable.

Ska Cubano, Ska Cubano
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