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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

Jose Conde Y Ola Fresca

By Chris Heim
Published January 24, 2008

Mr. Bongo

Jose Conde Y Ola Fresca (“fresh wave”) live up to their name with this intriguing, eminently danceable new release. An interesting amalgam himself, Conde—born in Chicago to Cuban parents, raised in Miami, educated at Berklee and based in New York for a decade—here cross-pollinates hearty Cuban perennials like mambo, son, cha-cha and salsa with colorful pan-Caribbean varieties, including Haitian compas, Puerto Rican bomba, and an all-in-one blend of cumbia, soca and reggae. He also taps into New Orleans funk with a little help from Meters drummer Zigaboo Modeliste other guests include Yerba Buena’s Pedrito Martinez, acclaimed trombonists Jimmy Bosch and Generoso Jimenez, and Venezuelan cuatro player Aquiles Baez. Conde is also an artful lyricist, fusing poetry, social consciousness and a cosmopolitan worldview—never a forced grafting, but more indicative of an organic musical evolution by this talented group, whose own future development definitely bears watching.