Orquesta Akokán


Regular price $ 25.00

Caracoles ushers (GRAMMY-award nominated) Orquesta Akokán’s unique brand of mambo into the 21st century, imbuing it with the group’s signature sense of akokán–a Cuban Yoruba word meaning “from the heart”.  Back at the helm are producer and multi instrumentalist, Jacob Plasse and virtuosic pianist, composer and arranger Michael Eckroth - a collaboration that continues to lead Orquesta’s exploration of the sublime mambo in all its depth and breadth. On this, their third album, they combine talents with Cuban lyricist, singer and composer Kiko Ruiz, who has toured and recorded with Pancho Amat’s illustrious Estrellas del Buena Vista Social Club as well as having a longstanding history as a singer, composer and arranger with Orquesta Maria Alejandra y Cubanía.

And although Caracoles is of this moment, its raices stretch deep into the past, presenting a glorious return to the iconic grooves of an era indelibly marked by Benny Moré, Perez Prado and Machito in New York bands and Cuba’s orquestas gigantes of the mid-twentieth century.  While some songs are everyday Cuban life story-telling,   Ruiz, a tata —priest— informs his lyrics with a  Palo Mayombe spirituality propelling the mambo back to its original meaning. Despite being popularized world-wide as a festive, light-spirited, danceable genre, mambo is not to be taken lightly in the Palo Mayombe religion. Mambo is both a song and a prayer, beseeching good spirits to  guide one’s journey away from darkness.  Two of the album’s songs —including the title tune— are in this Congo dialect, designed to be impenetrable by the uninitiated. Caracoles’ fierce, effervescent grooves, Ruiz affirms, can “...vibrate your soul, which is precisely what the world needs right now”. The tunes offer an irresistible invitation to heed the title song’s invitation, “Cucha mambo que yo emboa montero...este mambo es pa’ ti.” Listen to this story, I bring it to you as a traveling song...This mambo is for you.”