Ricardo Lemvo and Makina Loca – La Rumba SoYo (2014)

Respected worldwide as an accomplished band leader and singer, Ricardo Lemvo has built a solid, sometimes fanatical following over five prior albums filled with a innovative blend of Afro-Cuban rhythms and infectious world music. His creation of Makina Loca only raises the musical stakes.

The Los Angeles-based group is a perfect complement and even foil for Lemvo’s vocals. On La Rumba SoYo, their upcoming release on Cumbancha Records, Makina Loca provide infectious grooves polished production and superb playing. The result is track after track of perfectly blended African and Latin grooves, hearkening back to Lemvo’s Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire) and Angolan family roots. La Rumba SoYo was recorded in the U.S., Canada, France and Angola, and reflects that international melting pot — but, at the same time, it’s unmistakably groove oriented.

The lead-off track “Santo Antonia do Zaire” starts the international journey, with a strong bass and drum workout setting the foundation for Lemvo’s expressive vocal. “Dikulusu” seems to follow a more conventional Africa rhythm, yet is propelled by Lemvo’s vocal approach. “Rumba Soyo” continues the theme, yet expands upon it with its infectious call and response vocal, tight R&B-inspired charts and aggressively playful accordion breaks. If you don’t feel the urge to move at this point, you need to have your pulse checked.

Other stand out tracks include “El Caburnacho” with its samba-based foundation, blending Chicano rhythms and African inspired vocals, and “Samba Luka Samba” — which is a perfect blending of the international elements alluded to throughout La Rumba SoYo.

Lemvo has always been passionate about his craft, and his teaming with his band Makina Loca adds even more intensity to his music. La Rumba SoYo is a perfect blending of Cuban intensity, African jams and world Pop. Careful, though — La Rumba SoYo is infectious.

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier is a bass-playing lawyer living in Chicago. His first Steely Dan exposure was with an eight-track cassette of 'Pretzel Logic.' He can be reached at slangofages@icloud.com; follow him on Twitter: @slangofages. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.

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