The Bottom Line
- Great rhythms, great ballads of mixed Afro-Cuban/African origin
- Guitar stylings by Papa Noel
- "Serenata Angolana" with Maria de Barros a winner
- Cuban violin virtuoso Alfredo de la Fey on "Elbette"
- Only two numbers are the group's signature salsa
- Mixture of languages deviate from Spanish/Portuguese formula
- 11 tracks of Cuban / African music fusion
- Guests Candan Ecretin, Franco Luambo, Jesus A. Perez "El Nino"
- Released by Mopiato Music
Guide Review - CD Review: Ricardo Lemvo & Makina Loca - Isabela
Music, like language, is fluid and ever evolving. African slaves brought rumba and other African rhythms to Cuba, where they flourised and fused with Spanish /native musical elements to become what we think of today as Afro-Cuban music. But African music continued to evolve in its aboriginal environment.
Ricardo Lemvo was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo where he was exposed to Cuban music from an early age - and for which he developed a passion. He moved to the U.S. and in 1990 started the band Makina Loca with the help of Cuban Musician Jesus A. Perez. Then he went on to put his Africa back into Afro-Cuban music.
Isabela is Makina Loca's 5th album and named for his daughter. While Lemvo has always incorporated strong elements from his native African tradition into Makina Loca's Cuban sound, Isabela takes that a step further with tracks that are not only in Spanish, but also Portuguese, Lingala, Kikongo & Swahili from Africa and even one cut ("Elbette")in Turkish, a duet with the song's creator Candan Ercetin. .
Isabela has a classic boogaloo,"Kasongo Boogaloo" (in Spanish and Lingala). "Malambo" gets the benefit of soukous icon Franco Luambo on guitar; "Serenata Angolana" is a duet with Lemvo and Cape Verdean morna artist Maria de Barros.
For fans of Makina Loca's dynamic salsa, "Mentirosa" and "Papa Na Bana", with Perez, will hit the spot. But if you're expecting an album of the band's signature salsa, these two numbers are it.
While Latin music lovers might be surprised by the prevalence of global vs. Latin music on the album, I still think the Cuban-African synergy is a match good enough to please most people. Isabela is a vibrant, global album for the 21st century global village.