La Cumbiamba eNeYe - Marioneta
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La Cumbiamba eNeYe
Marioneta
Chonta Records (www.chontarecords.com)

A pleasant surprise, this disc. I would have been perfectly happy with a recording of deep Afro-Colombian roots music like the type put out by the great Toto La Momposina, and the abundance of hand drums, cactus flutes and rural vocals here conjure up that feel. But La Cumbiamba eNeYe skewer expectations a bit with an opening number that sounds equal parts klezmer, Balkan and New Orleans. A quick look at the liner notes confirms that there are instruments on hand (electric bass, drum set, soprano sax, euphonium) not always identified with Colombian music. This band is New York City-based and thus not only interested in preserving the folkloric authenticity of Colombia's Atlantic and Pacific coasts but an adventurous melting pot that goes beyond. The album provides continual reminders of its Afro-Colombian origins while also happily tossing out bursts of what might be called Colombian jazz: pieces that take a looser approach to such Europeanized styles as cumbia, porro and vallenato. The result is music that's engaging, festive and expertly constructed. Parts of Marioneta may indeed get you dancing like a puppet on strings, but be sure you pause now and then to listen closely to the pure joy of it. - Tom Orr

Artists' web site: www.lacumbiambaeneye.com

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