Various artists

During the '70s, a slew of Cuban songwriters and musicians who had their ears tuned to illegal radio from the States started blending Afro-Cuban music with the sounds of American soul and funk. In this collection, compiled by music historian Dan Zacks, who found some of the source tapes in a warehouse in Havana, we hear what could arguably be called the roots of Cuban jazz fusion, where electric guitars and keyboards meet the rich, lively percussion that so characterizes the music of that country. Among the disc's highlights are Mirtha y Raul's "Casina y Epidecus," which employs Middle Eastern instruments and an eerie movie-trailer-like narration, and Irakere's "Bacalao con Pan," an electric, guitar-based track with plenty of brass that brings the arrangements of the late Arif Mardin to mind (Irakere, by the way, featured now-legendary Paquito D'Rivera, Chucho Valdés and Arturo Sandoval). — Ernest Barteldes


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