Grupo Changui And Estrellas Campesinas
Traditional Crossroads (

The Guantanamero region of southeast Cuba is home to a US naval base and a mixed history of French colonists and Changui, a "rustic country cousin" of Cuban son. The influence of musicians such as Mario Bauza, Israel "Cachao" Lopez, and Company Segundo (Buena Vista Social Club) have grown in recent years. With the opportunity for improved cultural exchange, Cuba's regional music styles are ripe for exploration. Changui is such a variant. Its rhythmic antecedents come from the Ivory Coast/Congo (Bantu-speaking part of Africa)-distinct from the more familiar Yoruba culture of Nigeria-and provide a wonderful, earthy feel to these live recordings. Changui, translated as "low-class dance," features story-based vocals and the prominent use of the tres, a guitar-like double-strung instrument. Grupo Changui and Estrellas Campesinas are both regional bands that have withstood the cultural policies of the Castro government. Virtual cliches, the words that describe Cuban music are unerringly apt: hot, sizzling, smokin'! So, too, with Changui. Something to add to the list with Cuba's musical contributions of mambo, rumba, cha-cha and conga. A recording treasure, this one. -Richard Dorsett

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