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Lewis Trio: Battangó

The rage for la musica Cubana shows no signs of abating. Sometimes, though, too much of a good thing is not always a good thing. When not handled properly, the normally fiery rhythms and syncopations associated with the Latin tinge can be reduced to tired cliches. I, for one, don’t want to hear another vamping pianist clumsily treading a worn-out clave underneath those ubiquitous bass-conga-brass textures.

But wait. Here’s something different. Deliciously so.

The Lewis Trio, all Cubans, in spite of the Anglo sounding moniker, offers relief in the form of leader Ricardo G. Lewis’ violin. And the melding of his low-register-hugging fiddle with brother Iv n’s keyboards adds enough timbral variety to make this disc worth repeated listenings.

Though the violin is no stranger to Cuban ensembles, it is normally assigned a less demanding role, most typically in the traditional charanga. Lewis rises well above that, capitalizing on his instrument’s unique phrasing and textural characteristics to produce a group sound that is certainly refreshing in an increasingly congested sea of flotsam.

Originally Published