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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

Various Artists

By James Rodgers
Published April 16, 2008

Putumayo Presents Latin Reggae

One fine example of how an individual artist can make a difference in this world is captured on the new Putumayo world music collection Latin Reggae. The 11 tracks here showcase a diverse spread of the music from places like Spain, Chile, Puerto Rico, and Argentina, with each band blending its own cultural rhythms and styles into the sensuous enveloping vapors of reggae music. Of course, reggae was a genre little known outside Jamaica until Bob Marley emerged, and Bob would surely smile to hear Radio Malanga’s mix of Cuban, African, and Spanish elements to create the tasty “Charito Va,” or Go Lem System’s jazz-funk take on the aptly (or is it ironically?) titled “Pura Sangra.” In Spain, reggae is a key element of mestizo music, and groups like Amparanoia and Macaco show their respect by not merely co-opting it, but using it to create something new. As world music continues to mutate and blend, so do the musicians who fi nd inspiration and creativity in the music of other countries.