There are several things you need to do before you start to listen to this CD. First move all the furniture against the walls, you'll need dance room, second invite the neighbors (joy such as this should be spread around), third turn up the volume (those that don't fit in the house still need to hear this) and lastly put the disc on repeat mode (once is definitely not enough). Recuerdos or "Memories" is an exuberant, joyful, energetic and amazing musical ride that soars and swings. It demands that you sit up and listen. More importantly, it asks you to go along for the ride. Trust me when I say that you will be more than willing to go.
It can be very easy to dismiss some Latin bands as being lightweights. It is easy music to dance to but not much more beyond that. It is not so with this group. Out of the twelve compositions on Recuerdos, eight are original, composed by the bands musical director Julio Jauregui who plays the piano as well. "Mi Tumbao" the opening number introduces the band and serves as the introduction to Carlos Castanet's soaring vocals that wrap each number in emotion and provide a rich texture and color that pervades the album.
"Tomasito" is about the bands trumpet player, Thomas Marriott. Even if you don't speak the language, you can still pick up on some key words like amigo, trumpet, and comrade. Marriott provides a clear crisp style of playing that is the musical answer to the comments made by Casante. It is a fun number that will bring a smile to your face.
If you want to know what a great conga player sounds like, listen to the minute long introduction to "El Tambor" played by Paoli Mejias, who is one of several celebrated guests on this recording. His own album, Mi Tambor, is nominated for a Grammy for best Latin Jazz recording. It is hard to believe that all that music can come from one person, it leaves you breathless (air drumming is allowed within reason).
This is a tight group that can stand alone as individual players yet when they are together, as they are a immense musical force. Most of the songs here have personal meanings, "Recuerdos" is about Carlos Cascante's home in Costa Rica, "Robertica" is dedicated to Julio Jauregui's fiancé, Bobbie. Each song is played with a deeper sense of meaning and emotion that makes you feel like a friend more than just a casual listener.
There are several classic Latin numbers covered on Recerdos, such as "Obsesion," "Al Vaiven de Mi Carreta," "Harina de Maiz" and "Bilongo." To try and pick a favorite number on this disc is impossible and not worth the effort. Each song leads easily into the next and you float along on a cloud of musical enjoyment that ends way to soon. This is a disc that reminds you of why you listen to music in the first place and makes you feel for those who have yet to hear Carlos Cascante y su Tumbao.