01 OKANOkantomi
Lula World Records LWR036A (okanmusica.com)

The luminous duo of Canadian-Cuban musician/composers Elizabeth Rodriguez (vocalist and violinist) and Magdelys Savigne (vocalist and percussionist) are more widely known as Okan, and have already established themselves as the international co-ruling reinas of Afro-Cuban Music. With their latest release, not only have they composed nearly all of the material here, but they have incorporated the propulsive talents of their core ensemble into the CD (bassist Roberto Riveron, drummer Frank Martinez, keyboardist Jeremy Ledbetter and synthesizerist Miguel de Armas). Additionally, they have invited a staggering number of talented guests into their masterful recording. The compositions are all creatively connected to Mother Earth and are universal in their appeal. The deep emotional and musical verity of Okan challenges us to think and feel beyond boundaries.

The opening salvo is the incendiary Eshu Nigüe (Elegua), which thrusts us into the rich culture of West Africa, rife with magic and power and the fascinating fusion of Latin modalities with the rhythms of the ancestors. Quick on its heels is the stunning vocal duet, La Reina Del Norte featuring the relentless percussion of Reimundo Sosa and Emadio Dedue, as well as ridiculous violin work from Rodriguez. The title tune takes a sultry, contemporary twist with superb contributions from guitarist Elmer Ferrer.

Other stunners include the sumptuous, No Volvi, and the gorgeous, classically infused Preludio y Changui composed by Fritz Kreisler with stunning performances by Katherine Knowles on cello, Lara St. John and Rodriguez on violin, Matthew Giorlami on double bass and Sarah Di Niverville on viola. This irresistible recording is an invigorating, pure and potent project, as well as a triumph of Afro-Cuban fusion.

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