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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

VARIOUS ARTISTS

By ROBERT KAYE
Published January 25, 2006

RITMO AFRO-CUBANO
Fantasy

The courtship, and eventual relationship, that developed between jazz and Afro-Cubano music remains as one of the most “happily ever after” musical marriages in history, continuously creating new progeny with its own talents and strengths. Ritmo Afro-Cubano is a loving reflection of the kinship that developed from the 1930s onward. Culled from Fantasy Records’ extensive vault, the baker’s dozen tunes presented here features pioneers and would-be giants who, arm-in-arm, sauntered down that steamy aisle dancing to the mambo, rumba, salsa, and merengue. Luminaries abound in this impressive collection: Chico O’Farrill, Wes Montgomery, Dizzy Gillespie and Machito, Mongo Santamaria, Cal Tjader, Ray Barretto, Mario Bauza and others. While in comparison to some of today’s complex dance genres such as timba this album may seem demure, it still simmers with the excitement of two lovers meeting each other for the first time. A celebration as much as a historical compilation, Ritmo Afro-Cubano belongs in the library of anyone who has been touched by this most blessed of mellifluous and rhythmic unions.