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Bio Ritmo

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Album Review

This group brings to life what people like Buena Vista Social Club and the late Tito Puente did for decades before, namely offer up groove-riddled Latin rhythms with enough substance to put them over the top. Led by singer and chief songwriter Rei Alvarez, the band's brass section shines on "El Monte," while the Giustino Riccio/Gabo Tomasini percussion duo keeps the song moving forward. Although it's a tad repetitive over the four minutes, they seem to maintain a great deal of verve in the track. A primal "El Cambio" might bring "Sympathy for the Devil" to one's mind, but the number again returns to a tango-esque hip-shaking melody and a lovably fluid sound. "La Hamaca" takes a slightly different route but achieves the same objective, with Alvarez's vocals coming to the forefront of the impressive tune. "Atrevete" is the first breather on the album, as the downtempo beat rarely gets off the ground. The middle portion is intriguing, however, for the interplay among the musicians, finally getting into gear but still unable to salvage the song. The hypnotic flair to the record is perhaps its biggest selling point, although they tread over similar territory each and every time. "Hermano" is another quality track that is accentuated by Tim Lett and Bob Miller on trumpet as well as Tobias Whitaker on trombone. The funky '70s influence during "Para los Romperos" is also another high moment. Only on the lounge-lizard hues of "El Rayito" does the band become a parody of itself. Nonetheless, Bio Ritmo have their pulse on something that works.


Formed: 1991 in Richmond, VA

Genre: Salsa and Tropical

Years Active: '90s

Bio Ritmo has undergone a major shift since its inception in 1991. Initially an experimental percussion ensemble, the Virginia-based sextet has turned towards dance-inspiring Latin music. With their groove-induced blend of salsa and rhumba, the group has successfully toured with Latin artists (Tito Puente), reggae performers (Burning Spear), and neo-swing groups (the Squirrel Nut Zippers). Bio Ritmo, who takes their name from the biorhythm fad of the 1970s, was co-founded by Puerto Rico-born Jorge...
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