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Jazz Night In America, a public radio program hosted by Christian McBride from NPR Music, WBGO, and Jazz at Lincoln Center, will be in attendance to cover Orquesta Akokán at the MIM Music Theater.
It’s the kind of deceptively simple complexity that made listening to classic orchestras of Tito Puente, Machito and Perez Prado such a joy. These guys execute it perfectly.
Gómez borrows from New York salsa dura of the 70s and 80s, and between verses he improvises masterfully, excelling in the role of nimble salsero—a style of singing that didn’t exist in Havana in the 40s and 50s.
Straight out of Havana, Cuba, comes Orquesta Akokán—a blazing ensemble of deeply soulful mambo reminiscent of Benny Moré, Pérez Prado, and Banda Gigante of the 1940s and 1950s. Their self-titled album boasts all original songs recorded at the historic state-run Estudios Areito with Cuba’s finest players, young and old, led by the inimitable and dynamic singer José “Pepito” Gómez, produced by Chulo Records’ Jacob Plasse, with incendiary arrangements by Michael Eckroth. The ferocious and pedigreed wind and rhythm sections consist of musicians from storied groups including Irakere, NG La Banda, and Los Van Van. Robust, time-tested musical architectures of son cubano and mambo are honored and modernized through a synthesis of the rich compositional styles of Havana, New York, and beyond.
In Spring 2018, the group released their brand-new project on Daptone Records—their first Spanish language album, one recorded outside of Daptone’s studios, yet bursting with the label’s innate sense of soul, fine-tuned attention to sonic detail, and songcraft that is timeless and immaculate. “A groove as intense as a runaway train,” hails NPR. Orquesta Akokán made their U.S. debut in July 2018 (including a date at Lincoln Center).
Producer’s Circle member Tom G.