No Artificial Filler
For Miami-based guitarist and bandleader DJ Le Spam (a.k.a. Andrew Yeomanson), his band's name, the Spam Allstars, has nothing to do with the famed meat substitute. Instead, what the moniker actually represents is this eclectic act's mission "to blend improvisational electronic elements and turntables with Latin, funk, and dub to create a sound that is unique," as stated in the liner notes of the group's latest CD, Introducing Spam All-Stars (World Disc).
The album is a fine sample of what Miami's hardest-working Latin-fusion does best live: always thinking outside the box. An example of this is "Gallo Pinto," a Latin funk instrumental that stars the horn section, climaxing with a spine-tingling jazz-inspired solo from trombonist Chad Bernstein. "Afrika" features touches of danzón and West African beats, with an arrangement that focuses mainly on the work of conguero Lazaro Alfonso. Yet another standout is the keyboard-driven "Charanga E-350," reminiscent of the material with which Seventies Cuban-fusion bands such as Irakere (of which Alfonso was a member) experimented.
In a nutshell, the music on Introducing Spam All-Stars borrows from oft-neglected sounds from the past while creating a new sound courtesy of the divergent personalities of the band's musicians. Their groove is not easy to define at first (one could argue that is their point), but after a few spins, you can finally get it, as their legions of local fans did long ago.
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