If when listening to Mabagwe – A Tribute to “Los Mayores” by Los Rumberos de la Bahia you happen to feel that you are at a block party somewhere in Havana, or in Matanzas, or just in an impromptu gathering of ordinary folks to worship the Orishas, or simply praise a famous ghost, you would be right royally fooled. However, the fact that this music comes directly from Cuba to the Bay Area in the US is absolutely spot on because the music features artists steeped in the traditions, direct from Cuba. Best of all these rumberos – José Luis Gómez, Jesus Díaz, Ernesto Gatell and others – have brought with them the visceral energy of the rumba, the quintessential rhythm of the island of Cuba.
Editor’s Pick · Featured Album · Mabagwe
That rumba has its roots in religious ritual is heard right out of the gates in the glory and praise of “Siempre Vivirán” as a shout goes up to the Virgin Mother of God in the purity of the voices of the Cuban musicians. The worshipful traditional music is quickly transformed into the modern amid the exquisite shuffle and dancing of the yambú, guaguancó and columbia rhythms. No matter what tattoo is being beaten on clave – cata or guagua, or maruga, conga or quinto, the shape of the rumba holds true for “Potpourri De Boleros” (guaguancó) and “Columbia Guerrera” (columbia).
The long lyrical vocal line snakes forth, sung by one soloist or another, sometimes in a teasing duet. Equally each unfolds above the muttering drums of Michael Spiro and Jesus Díaz, together with Colin Douglas, Jesús González and Randel Villalongo (the latter two on quinto), then suddenly, on a cue from José Luis Gómez and Jesus Díaz, the rhythm tightens up and the chorus of voices joins in, and the call and response sections steam off – quinto drums improvising wildly under the singers’ inspiraciones. It’s then that listeners will feel compelled to join in the montuno section of the son montuno and impending salsa, when the band really gets going and the dancing – that you may not see, but still feel – starts to heat up and simply doesn’t stop.
Track list – 1: Siempre Vivirán; 2: Elegía A Regino; 3: Lo Que Me Dijo Chango; 4: Potpourri De Boleros; 5: Que Será De La Rumba Buena; 6: Columbia Guerrera; 7: Tonada Para Regino; 8: Oye Mi Omele; 9: A La Tulinkilo/Siempre Vivirán
Personnel – José Luis Gómez: vocals; Michael Spiro: percussion; Jesus Díaz: percussion and vocals with special guests — Rogelio Ernesto Gatell Coto: vocals; Ivan Camblor: tres; Colin Douglas: percussion; Jesus Gonzalez: quinto; Jason McGuire: acoustic guitar; Beatriz Godinez Muñiz: vocalist; Fito Reinoso: vocalist; Genesie Reinoso; vocals; Randel Villalongo: quinto
Released – 2018
Label – Eguin Eje Records
Runtime – 53:58