La Mambanegra – El Callegueso y su Mala Mana

Album Review | Movimientos Records | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 3/5

From the opening bars of Puro Potenkem, the lead song on the new album by Colombian orchestra La Mambanegra, there seems to be an immediate desire to drop everything – apart from a handy saucepan and wooden spoon – in order to shamelessly dance around the kitchen; the pan and spoon blending nicely with the very prominent cowbells and various other assorted percussion on this most lively album. It’s pretty much salsa, or more accurately break salsa through and through. Rich in Latin rhythms with a little Funk and a pinch of Hip-Hop thrown in, the songs feature some highly engaging and vibrant call and response styled vocals, whilst the horns blow like there’s no tomorrow. The energy refuses to subside over the next eighty-odd minutes, in fact in places the horns seem to be positively on fire, especially during the trumpet solo on “El Sabor De La Guayaba”. Listening to El Callegueso y su Mana Mana is like opening the curtains upon summer, even though we’re still in the middle of February. The nine-piece La Mambanegra, or The Black Mamba, brings together some of Colombia’s finest musicians, from the funky percussion through to the horn section, a sort of Santana without the wailing guitar solos. The charismatic Jacobo Vélez peers through reflected shades on the cover, which to me is reminiscent of Leadbelly from an entirely different era, though with the blue skies reflecting the Caribbean Sea rather than the cotton fields of Louisiana. The only aspect of this release that slightly unnerves me, is the photo of the two furious-looking machete-wielding women on the reverse of the cover.