Sergent García
Un Poquito Quema'o
Higher Octave 1999 (

Bruno "Sergent" García's second release, the first with a full band, is no mere reggae recording, although scarcely a measure passes without reggae influences erupting from salsa, son, hip-hop, and undefinably blended sounds and styles. Un Poquito Quema'o (A Bit Burnt) does demonstrate how relentless high energy and a large ensemble replete with brass, percussion, and piano can enliven a too often formulaic style. Sarge's band deploys reggae playfully, in rootsy, dub, and toaster styles, effortlessly interweaving it with other Caribbean sounds. The results are never poppy-dull, frequently surprising, and always entertaining. Not bad for a multi-ethnic Parisian combo.

Emerging from an extended, spacey piano and synth introduction, "Acabar Mal" comes to a good end. Its driving rock-reggae features a fine brass section supporting the Sarge's nasal vocals and bad boy atmosphere is added by urban traffic and police sounds. "Medecine Man" presents a different sort of reggae, more rolling and dancehall in style, Sarge's staccato vocals playfully accented by flute and bloing! sounds, salsa piano providing an interesting diversion in the middle of the track. Guest vocalist La Capitana livens up "Camino de la Vida's" swinging acid jazz beat with a coy hip-hop rap, flute once again adding a tropical feel. Proceedings slow a bit on "Hoy Me Voy," a calm son during which a chorus chats with Sarge: "where ya goin', Sargento?," the rhythm suggesting the torpor of a hot summer day, piano and brass providing the heat. "9 Lives" features the Sarge's tongue-twisting staccato rap, supported by dense hand percussion and a precision chorus. "Llevale Mi Canto" is the longest track, and well worth it, the band weaving through reggae, salsa, and jazz seamlessly. Un Poquito Quema'o is a good party disc as well as a fine example of creative blending of musical styles. - Jim Foley

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