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Llanita by Almeida Girl & Descarga

This debut album by a 9 piece band from Manchester, England was first released in May of 2004 and has found its way across the pond. It has a Latin sound complete with brass section and requisite percussion plus a lead vocalist by the name of Kirsty Almeida who hails from Gibraltar. Kirsty Almeida has a powerful voice which she knows how to use, sings in English and Spanish and (wonder of wonders) has great diction. The band has talented soloists and provides a driving rhythm behind the vocals.

There are two familiar songs on this CD - "Nature Boy" and "I Heard It Through The Grapevine". The rest of the material is original with music and lyrics by Kirsty Almeida and bassist Matt Owens, with the exception of "Soy Nervioso" which was written by pianist Andrej Baranek. The group also writes their own arrangements.

The first track, "Barfly", is an original with background bar noises. It is a mambo with an English and a Spanish vocal. "Nature Boy", the Nat Cole hit .is given a salsa treatment, starting off with Almeida's English vocal accompanied by conga drum and followed by an instrumental chorus. The Spanish vocal on this leads into timbale and trumpet solos. Then back to the English lyric with the last verse done as a finale chorus. "Llanita" has an English lyric with a very singable melody. "I Heard It Through The Grapevine", the Gladys Knight & The Pips hit, lends itself very well to a salsa beat. The vocal is done in English, followed by Neil Yeats' tasty trumpet solo and then the whole band joins in. "Mi Loca" is another original and done in a mambo tempo. "Chiquilla" has a vocal in Spanish only and is a mambo as well. It features a conga solo by Hugh Lawrence and jazz riffs by the brass section. "Soy Nervioso" is a cha cha written by the band's pianist, Andrej Baranek who takes a solo on this track. The piano solo is an interesting combination of jazz and latin styles and the song has some very interesting chord changes. "Kabee-ehseele" is another original that has an English vocal for the verse and a chorus sung in Spanish. The vocal is interspersed with horn breaks and the rhythm changes when the Spanish lyrics are introduced. This track features a multitude of percussion instruments including steel drum. The last track, "Unconditional", is a love song done in a bolero tempo. It is sung beautifully by Kirsty Almeida in English.

Almeida Girl & Descarga has a fresh sound featuring exciting Latin rhythms, good solos and a lead vocalist who has a powerful and compelling voice. And, in addition, you can dance to everything on this CD.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Almeida Girl & Descarga
  • CD Title: Llanita
  • Genre: Latin Jazz / Latin Funk
  • Year Released: 2005
  • Record Label: Descarga Co. UK
  • Tracks: Barfly, Nature Boy, Llanita, Grapevine, Mi Loca, Chiquilla, Soy Nervioso, Kabee-ehseele and Unconditional
  • Musicians: Kirsty Almeida (vocals), Andrej Baranek (piano), Matt Owens (bass), Hugh Lawrence (congas), Rick Weedon (bongos, timbales), Malcolm Strahan (trumpet track 1), Steve Chadwick (trumpet track 1), Stephen Band (alto and soprano sax), Atholl Ransome (tenor sax), Neil Yates (trumpet tracks 2,4), Paul Brickles (trumpet tracks 5,6,8), Bryan Davis (trumpet tracks 5,6,8,9), Johnny Enright (trombone tracks 2,3,5,6,9), Louise Oliver (trombone tracks 5,7), Dudley Nesbitt (steel pans track 8)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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