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The Descarga Review

Aguankó
Invisible CD

Alberto Nacif returns with his critically acclaimed group Aguancó. Nacif, composer, conguero and bandleader, is joined by esteemed Cuban percussionist José “Pepe” Espinosa (timbal, bongo, batá) who adds his islands essential, rich, flavor to everything he engages.
There’s enough swing and intelligence packed into these nine tracks to the power this city for a week. Wonderfully composed and tastefully executed, this is mambo-driven dance music at its best.
There is a carefully considered balance of rhythmic intensity and understated nuance that is at the core of Nacif’s arrangements. It’s this quality that has resulted in one the most satisfying, unified, albums produced this year.
Even the more relaxed-tempo tracks are so infused with sabor and groove that its impossible not to move your body. For example, the title track, Invisible, sung by Alberto Alberto, is a hauntingly beautiful bolero that morphs into a slowly boiling cha-cha-chá.
On the other extreme are tracks like Luna Roja for Armando Peraza, a full blown trombone and trumpet-framed party that shines like a beacon of Afro Cuban spirit. Nacif and Espinoza converse percussively in eloquent fashion here. Nice.  And, then, guest trumpeter Marcus Belgrave nails it on Señor Belgrave, the danzon-chá.
Nacif is a superb conguero who refrains from going over the top. Oh, he can push it. But, like his compositions, he tends to favor a well executed phrase over fireworks simply for fireworks sake. That's just fine by me.
This one is a treasure. A big DJ Alert, and Highly Recommended.

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