Sunday, 29 March 2015

La Mambanegra bites again

Photo: Karol Pico

My little brother, who is wise in many matters, recently suggested to me that I should write a music blog so he could keep up with what I'm listening to here these days. I was a bit miffed, cos I thought that I do have a music blog. But I suppose you have to write blog posts about music if you want to consider your website as a music blog, rather than a dustbowl with virtual tumbleweed blowing across the screen for the benefit of the bots and crawlers who land here from Romania.

This suggestion of his popped up in a coversation about La Mambanegra, who I went to see on Thursday night. I've mentioned them on here before, but what surprises me now as I scroll back through the previous blog posts to see what I wrote about them previously, is that is from more than two years ago. These guys take their time to get their stuff down in the studio, but now it is finally here, the long-awaited album from Jacobo Velez's new group.

And what is it? Notionally it is salsa, but I watched them play a show in Cali a year or so ago, and the audience seemed cool to the band's vibe. The reason? Caleños are purists when it comes to their salsa, and La Mambanegra certainly don't play by the rules. There are a lot of ingredients in this particular mix, and the Caleños weren't impressed (and hence refused to dance!) with someone messing with their favourite genre. To my ears there is a powerful funk bass driving this monster, and the brass flourishes more often make me think of Motown and Stax than Cali or Puerto Rico. Judge for yourselves.