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11/01/2016
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CD Review – Richard Bona, Mandekan Cubano “Heritage”

I recently had the opportunity to do an interview with Richard that will give you a lot of information directly about this CD.

Let’s focus on a few of the details about “Heritage”. The combination of Richard’s vocals, arranging skills and bass playing, with traditional Cuban music and musicians, comes at a perfect time in history.

Political relations between the US and Cuba are presently thawing out and we are gaining new access to the island. During the time that Cuba has been somewhat segregated, the music and culture of the island has been well preserved. A huge portion of this music has a solid foundation in it’s African roots. You simply have to hear the percussion and your feet are ready to move. This CD reminds us of the universal linguistic nature of music and how it knows no barriers.

The musicians on this CD are superb and you can tell how much they enjoyed working on this project from the resulting tracks. Energetic percussion laced with a tight horn section and complimented by an elaborate piano produce top notch tracks. There are plenty of opportunities for each musician to really show their chops. Needless to say, Richard Bona is a total beast on bass and his choices that blend a solid groove with lyrical attacks are at a level I have not seen before. Recording this CD must have been a blast!

Here is the line up of musicians:

Richard Bona – bass, guitars, electric sitar, vocals, additional percussion and keyboards
Osmany Paredes – piano
Luisito Quintero – percussion
Rey Alejandre – trombone
Dennis Hernandez – trumpet
Roberto Quintero – percussion
Here are a few sample tracks:

“Bilongo” is a very familiar tune that I recognize from my time in Puerto Rico as “La Negra Tomasa”. By definition bilongo means ‘to cast a spell on someone’, most often an evil eye, and has it’s roots in African magic. This particular arrangement is the best I have heard. I don’t care that I don’t understand the lyrics (I do know them in Spanish).

“Kivu” is a very juicy Guajira. A Guajira is a specific tempo with shifting rhythms that is attributed to a country style/rural kind of Cuban music. It makes you kind of want to drag your feet in a shuffle progression.

“Eva” is Spanish for Eve. Here we have an exquisite acoustic guitar piece supported by strings and harmonic vocals. This piece is more African than Cuban and elicits images of nature and beauty. Keep your ears open for some sweet bass runs imbedded in the smooth flowing music

Okay, I think you have had a nice little taste of this treat. “Heritage” is a musical masterpiece with universal appeal. The wide variety of tempos and musical details are a treat to hardcore Latin music fans like myself and neophytes alike. The wealth of African musical influences are perfectly presented and can be appreciated by listeners who have not been exposed to this rich musical treasure chest. This CD is definitely a “Must Have”!

Run, don’t walk and get it now!