Ever since we first became aware of the music of the Juno and Grammy Award-winning Alex Cuba, we have always known that the elements of music – melody, harmony and, especially, rhythm – have throbbed and pulsated through his veins. And like the celebrated album Mendó that came just before this one, El Swing Que Yo Tengo, continues to buck every trend while remaining true to the glorious rhythms of the island from which he takes his name.
In the repertoire of the latter album Cuba pushes the proverbial envelope even further, including electronic elements in music that is steeped, as much in traditional Cuban dance forms as in funky and hip-hop-inspired rhythmic flavours.
Cuba’s lustrous tenor swoops and soars fuelled by seductive romantic lyricism, often entwined with harmonies that he has overlaid on these delicious melodies. This is true even when – as on songs such as El Swing Que Yo Tengo and Son Para Tu Boca – more adventurous vocal elements and styles such as rap and other localized Caribbean song elements intervene.
On this album Cuba plays all the instruments, including those powered by electronics, blending superbly with the percussion and he even treats us to an elegantly slapped-on bass. The apogee of the album, hands down, is Agüita de Coco, a song that is powered by Cuba’s eloquent voice together with the chocolate-and-chilli-coated vocals of the Rwandan music sensation, Butera Knowless.