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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

Tumba Francesa

By Marty Lipp
Published June 22, 2007

Tumba Francesa
Soul Jazz

America’s re-introduction to Cuban music continues with this look at another fascinating facet of Afro-Cuban music. The drum and chant group Tumba Francesa La Caridad De Oriente is one of the last of the Tumba Francesa mutual aid societies in Cuba. The groups were formed after the Haitian revolution of 1791, which sent French-influenced islanders to Cuba’s eastern shores. There the immigrants formed mutual aid societies, gaining local adherents and developing a subculture based on semi-religious fiestas. Today, only two remain, and one of them, Tumba Francesa La Caridad De Oriente, has released this well-produced representation of their sound. The CD opens with a spoken introduction that takes several minutes and is way less detailed than the excellent liner notes. Soon enough, the drums start up, the singers chant and all fall into a hypnotic groove. It’s far from contemporary salsa, but it shows this roots music to good effect.