Author:Varela, Jesse



Variations on the Jamaican Ska one-drop-off-beat are everywhere, but this Los Angeles-based octet may be the first to fuse it with Afro-Cuban rhythms. Lacing it with jazz a nd '70s motifs from horn-heavy cruisers like Malo and Tower of Power, it's an almost all-instrumental joyride from a Montebello band that met playing in local junior college big bands and combos. From the onset, the 10-track debut establishes its sound and grabs you with a soul-ska -guajira called Fideo (para aqui). Much like the thin-noodled Mexican spaghetti that its named after, it's a steamy comfortable groove with flavors that melt into each other. The rhythm section is the engine, with drummer Alfredo Ortiz and bassist José Esquivel driving the bop as the rock-steady guitar of Joey Kraut synchronizes with Walter Miranda's contrapuntal piano montunos. It,s just the right stuff for the...

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