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Oaktown Irawo: Funky Cubonics

Adding an urban flavor to Afro-Cuban music is a sure way to destabilize an already fearsomely volatile musical Molotov (see the War back catalog). Funky Cubonics (Tonga TNGCD 8303, 45:10) the debut CD from Bay Area troupe Oaktown Irawo, is a stellar example of Afro-Latin jazz given a ’90s funk-jazz makeover. Yoruba-influnced chants bump up against muscular soloing (check out sax player Yosvany Terry on “I will Always Remember You)” and pianist Omar Sosa on “Kimiko”) and locked in grooves, courtesy of Tower of Power drummer Dave Girabaldi and percussionist Jesus Diaz. Drawing from forms like the danzon, and rhumba, as well as more modern influences like Steve Coleman and Herbie Hancock, Irawo’s modern disaporic fusion is capable of stirring even the most resolute wallflowers.

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