Published Mar 28, 2018There's a layer of richness infused into the debut album from Orquesta Akokán that hard to deny. Akokán, a Yoruba word that means "from the heart," is an apt descriptor for the collective led by Cuban vocalist José "Pepito" Gómez; this collection of original music, recorded over a three-day session in Havana, is equal parts fiery, vibrant and technically sound.
It's much ado about the mambo here: kickoff single "Mambo Rapidito" moves swiftly and without fear. "Un Tabaco para Elegua" wears its Afro-Cuban tambor spirituality on its collective sleeve, leveraging meandering horns to preach to the choir and recently converted alike. The fresh-yet-familiar feel on "Cuidado con el Tumbador," the slow push of " No Te Hagas" and the impeccable timing of "A Gozar la Vida" all reveal that this debut promises to be more than a one-time thing for the group.
There's a distinct old-world Havana big band feel here, filtered through a postmodern lens. Steered by the vocals of Pepito, piano melodies sparkle, brass blare bold and percussive sounds punctuate a overarching vibe of joy. (Daptone)