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Album Review

The general focus on this album might be Cuban, but it's really a pan-Caribbean stew, and a very spicy one at that. So, along with the very rhythmic cha-cha of "El Titiere," you'll find "Ride la Ola," where a Cuban groove rides easily with a reggae touch, and a version of "Summertime" that mixes mambo, jazz, and a heavy jam session. Full marks to Jose Conde for his widescreen vision for the music, and also to the band, Ola Fresca, for the ability to bring that vision to life. The guests are used very wisely, such as salsa trombonist Jimmy Bosch on "Café con Sangre," where his talents can run free, and Zigaboo Modeliste, who brings a strong sense of New Orleans to "Oshiri Pan Pan." But whether it's the brilliant open clarity of Cuban son or the loving compas from Haiti on "Petiti y Titi," there's always plenty going on here, and the groove never stops. At times it turns thrilling, especially on "Probando Nuevos Sabores," which manages to bring together soca, Colombian cumbia, and reggae to create a wonderful fusion, and even a touch of humor with "El Chacal" — in other words, something for everyone.

(R)Evolucion, Jose Conde
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