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Greg Ribot and Cumbia del Norte: The International Conspiracy

The original idea of cross-pollinating Colombian cumbia grooves with jazz belongs to Charles Mingus. His large ensemble experiment Cumbia and Jazz Fusion (Atlantic) shows the imagination of his genius. It’s not known how Mingus heard this South American music but it’s a sound that filtered into North America in the 1950s and flourished along the U.S./Mexico border region and in Latino immigrant communities. With its insatiable hypnotic beat, it’s a popular dancehall sound you can’t miss on Spanish-language radio or streets.

Since that 1977 date, very few jazz musicians have ventured into using the cumbia as an improvisational texture. That is until now, with Greg Ribot and Cumbia del Norte’s The International Conspiracy. What his maverick brother, Marc, did for Arsenio Rodriguez and Cuban son, Greg could do for cumbia. Despite the lackluster English song titles, this all-instrumental excursion is like a musical cruise on the Magdalena River in Colombia that cuts across the heart of the country.

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