Leave it to a British band to combine Latin rhythms, Jamaican mento, and ska beats, all dressed in retro zoot suits. The group is fronted by Cuban vocalist Ben Billy and London-born singer Nathan "Natty Bo" Lerner, with Jamaican trumpeter Eddie "Tan Tan" Thornton, Japanese saxophonist Megumi Mesaku, and Havana bassist Ray Crespo. For the most part, the music is a surprising melange of Beny More-type vocals and upbeat ska rhythms made famous by The Skatalites, as evidenced by the snappy instrumental "Jezebel," the hypnotizing mid-tempo "Soy Campesino," and the humorous title track. Also included are the Colombian cumbia "Tungarara" and Miguelito Valdes' "Babalu." Before purists attach the gimmick flag to the ensemble's second CD, they should please note that a few of the creators of ska were born in Cuba, and since African descendants are the prime creators of Caribbean music, this effort represents a reunion of kindred rhythms.
"Altogether a triumph: if Ska Cubano didn?t exist, it would be imperative to invent them, and these public-spirited musicians have saved the world the trouble. Sincere gratitude is in order."
"A triumph of musical imagination!"
-- London Independent
"Remorselessly pumping rhythms... probably the party record of the year so far!"
-- London Daily Telegraph
"The fattest horn section around... for pure good time entertainment it's hard to beat."
-- Straight No Chaser
"Wildly exuberant...pounding, hypnotic... crazy... energizing party music... utterly infectious!"
-- London Metro
About the Artist
When it comes to Ska Cubano, rarely has the expression "a match made in heaven" been so apropos. Take classic rhythms from two of the world’s most musically influential islands, Jamaica and Cuba, mash them together like mint and sugar, add ample of amounts of intoxicating melodies and a dash of jest; the result is a magical musical cocktail that has been setting dance floors ablaze from London to Tokyo.
The idea of creating a Cuban ska band originated with Peter A. Scott, a British entrepreneur and music lover whose business ventures brought him regularly to Jamaica and Cuba. Scott invited Natty Bo, a renowned London ska singer and devotee of all things retro, to travel with him to the city of Santiago de Cuba, often called "the cradle of Cuban music" because of its influential role in the development of popular Cuban music, to record with some of the best local musicians. Natty Bo, also a popular London DJ, was an avid collector of old Cuban 78s, and suggested bringing other flavors into the mix such as Colombian cumbia, Jamaican mento and Trinidadian calypso.
While in Santiago, Natty Bo heard Cuban crooner Beny Billy, the living reincarnation of the legendary Beny Mor?, belting it out in a bar, and knew then and there he had found his vocal counterpart on the project. Back in London, Natty Bo formed a band featuring the leading maestros of Cuban and Jamaican music, and the group set about bringing the irresistible Ska Cubano sound to the concert stage.
The rest, as they say, is history, or at least, historical revisionism, as Ska Cubano posits a world where the music of Caribbean cousins Jamaica, Cuba and beyond developed a closer kinship back in the day before reggae and salsa shook the globe.
01- Soy Campesino
02- Ay Caramba!
04- Oye Compay Juan
05- No Me Desesperes
06- Big Bamboo
09- Istanbul (Not Constantinople)
11- Chispa Tren
14- Cumbia En Do Menor