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By Roger Cowell, professional DJ. facebook.com/djrogerc
DJ, producer, broadcaster, record company proprietor and world traveler on a quest for the freshest new music, Gilles Peterson returns with Havana Cultura: The Search Continues, a double CD package showcasing the sounds of modern Cuba. The first is an original studio album, produced by Peterson and featuring the pianist Roberto Fonseca and his incredible band with a host of local singers and rappers. It’s an exciting fusion of jazz, afro-latin, funk, hip-hop, soul and traditional Cuban rhythms, brought completely up-to-date. There’s an excellent version of A Tribe Called Quest’s “Check The Rhyme,” which manages one of the finest blends of latin-jazz with hip hop heard in many years.
The first album is worth the price of admission alone, but for the second Gilles hits the streets of Havana to find us the best of what’s happening in contemporary Cuba, and there’s so much great music here. Rumba, salsa, brass bands and of course plenty of hip hop but mixed up in so many different ways, it never sounds trite. WOMAD festival favorites the Creole Choir of Cuba also make an appearance here, with their totally unique songs, sung in Creole instead of Spanish. If you have a taste for either classic or current Cuban music, this album is completely indispensible.