Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Listen Or Die? #11 - Palo Congo...

Listen Or Die? Our weekly examination of the albums listed in the book, 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. Must you hear them? We'll be the judge of that... 

by Sabu (1957)
Running Time: 40:52
Reviewed by Matt Bond

1.El Cumbanchero
2. Billumba-Palo Congo
3. Choferito-Plena
4. Asabache
5. Simba
6. Rhapsodia Del Maravilloso
7. Aggo Elegua
8. Tribilin Cantore

Say goodbye to the brassy big band jazz sounds, at least for this week, and say hello to some spicy Latin jazz! Louis Martinez aka Sabu delivers a forty minute, non-stop percussive assault of Cuban rumba goodness, random Spanish rants (one assumes as one does not speak much Spanish - hola, bitchola) and world class conga drumming. Places you can expect to hear the music of Palo Congo these days include your fave local Mexican dining establecimiento, motion pictures that feature exciting/exotic dance sequences south of the border and that's about it. 

Given Sabu's mixed heritage (Spanish, African and West Indian), Palo Congo percussive influences leap from Latin to African and beyond throughout. The tribal beats of Africa are most prevalent on 'Simba,' which should come as no surprise to anyone who has seen The Lion King and has a basic understanding of geography. Don't get used to the pre-'Circle of Life' circa-1957 Zulu chanting though, as you're bounced right back to a sunny, tequila-infused Sunday afternoon in Tijuana for 'Rhapsodia Del Maravilloso.' Percussion takes a backseat to the tres guitar, which favours latter day funk as much as the timeless sounds of classic Spanish music. 

This back and forth between African and Spanish themed tracks keeps the listener invested. If the focus had been limited to strict Cuban rumba, Palo Congo would command just as much attention as your standard 50s jazz album. Did I mention how happy I am to be big band jazz free for a week? That fact alone would have earned Sabu a LISTEN for Palo Congo. Thankfully, the album's percussive genius does a lot more to earn it. 

The tally...

DIE: 6

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