Usually, when you think of Afro-Cuban music, sounds of Cuba with a bit of octane come to mind. Well, Cameroon-born bassist Richard Bona changes that thought on this album. With Osmany Paredes/p, Roberto & Luisito Quintero/perc, Rey Alejandre/tb, Dennis Hernandez/tp, and himself on just about everything else, Bona puts the “Afro” back into the Afro-Cuban, bringing African vocals and grooves to perfectly meld with the Latin salsa sensuality.
The album opens with a lively local chant before timbales, a muted trumpet and sizzling salsa with pieces like “Bilongo” and “Joko Joko.” Paredes’ piano does a table dance with the timbales and horn section on “Cubaneando” while gentle string sounds are infused with sublime voices on the alluring “Matanga.” African voices lilt and sounds like birds chirping in the rain forest are detected along with Bona’s sublime bass line on “Essewe ya Monique” and things get thunderous with hand claps and voices on “Ngul Mekon.” Innocent guitar, piano and molasses rich African voices create a long sunset on “Eva” and sauntering brass combines with salsa and the heart of the dark continent on ”Kivu.” This album is irresistible and enjoyable for its attitude, musicianship and ingenuity. Album of the Year?
He’s coming to Catalina’s in a couple of weeks. Definitely a must see.