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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

Clave Y Guaguanco

By Tom Orr

La Rumba Que No Termina
Cuba Chevere

In existence for 60 years, Cuba's Clave y Guaguanco retain the primal grace and refined power of the drums-and-voice rumba that survived the brutality of the slave era and kept Cuba forever linked to Africa. While there are guest artists providing bass, tres, trumpet and piano at various points on La Rumba Que No Termina, it's the congas, bata, clave, chekere, blocks, bells and spirited call-and-response vocals that enthrall throughout. The percussionists, locked in as they are, spill forth with a freewheeling joy that the layers of choral singing sweeten further while rhythmic shifts both subtle and abrupt are deftly executed. The attempt to contemporize the sound via electric keyboard and rap cadences on "Respuesta A Maria" feels unnecessary, though the timba-style embellishment on the concluding title track works much better. With a title that translates as “may this rumba never end,” and with this long-running group still at it, it’s easy to believe that rumba music never will.