Mardi Gras Mambo (Hannibal) Rating: NN
Ry Cooder might continue to trot out stars of the Buena Vista Social Club, but Jesus Alemañy must be thinking that the Cuban craze is finished. Why else would the trumpeter ditch the hard-driving descargas of his ¡Cubanismo! project for a cheesy concept record?
Mardi Gras Mambo ostensibly connects the dots between Afro-Cuban jazz and New Orleans roots music. That might sound great on paper, but what actually comes across is a dishevelled mix of styles. Alemañy's 14-piece orquesta joins John Boetté and the Yockamo All-Stars to tart up New Orleans standards like Mother In Law and Shallow Water Suite with vaguely Cuban rhythms. The playing is strong enough, but the conviction isn't there, leaving ¡Cubanismo! sounding like just another show band. Expect a purer shakedown when ¡Cubanismo! rolls into Massey Hall September 28. MG