Various Gilles Peterson Presents Havana Cultura - New Cuba Sounds

Gilles Peterson's quest to unearth Havana's musical richness led to the creation of his own ensemble, the Havana Cultura Band, and the 12 recorded tracks that appear on disc one. Peterson teamed up with famed Cuban pianist Roberto Fonseca and his jazz mates, along with vocalists Mayra Caridad Valdes, up-and-comer Danay, Francis Del Rio, rapper Kumar and hip-hop outfits Ogguere and Obsession. A distinctive Cuban flavour connects the album during its outright flirtations with a wide breadth of styles, from hip-hop and reggaeton to jazz, soul and R&B. Roberto Fonseca's contributions to the disc go beyond his role as band director; his well placed and beautifully composed piano notes expertly interrupt the songs, in outbursts and whispers, to emerge as one of the record's highlights. Gilles Peterson Presents Havana Cultura then packs an even bigger punch with disc two. Furthering the infusion of rap and electronic beats into its eclectic blend of styles, it's as much homage to the diverse musical influences of the country's current music scene as it is to the emerging artists featured on the 16-track compilation. Together, both discs are well worth the hype. (Brownswood)