Ir-Sais ft. Rocco Flava & Dando – ABC

A number of artists with strong roots in the Dutch Antilles have recently established their musical language and done justice to their talent. One of them is Ir-sais (Irgwin Placido Sluis), who was raised on the Caribbean island of Bonaire. His latest hit single is called ABC, an abbreviation for Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao. The lyrics are written in Papiamento and the genre could be referred to as a mix of zouk and pop music.
Check out the video below that leaves nothing to be desired for the promotion of the ABC-islands.

Ir-Sais has started a producer studio at his home, mixing zouk with pop and appealing to a growing crowd of Antilles music lovers. With the quality of songs like ABC one would soon expect an audience outside the Caribbean and the Netherlands and it is hoped that the Papiemento dialect is no hindrance. Wasn’t ABC one of the first signature songs of Michael Jackson when he was still part of the Jackson 5?

Enrique Iglesias – Bailando

It is time for me to nominate a song for this year’s summer hit. Gente De Zona and Descemer Bueno have written and recorded the song earlier this year in Cuba, but it was only after their collaboration with Spanish singer-songwriter Enrique Iglesias when the song rocketed into a commercial success.  Bailando has all the ingredients to become a summer smash, such as a swinging beat, Spanish guitar, catchy melody and lyrics full of mentions of party, dancing and sex.

Different versions of the song have been released, but I would like to share the ‘Spanglish’ version featuring Sean Paul. The video was filmed in Santa Domingo and lives up to the song’s name with a convincing choreography of sensual flamenco girls, street dancers and soccer.

Afro-Latino Festival 2014

Belgium is a country of high quality festivals, and the 16th anniversary of Afro-Latino Festival in Bree was no exception. Since the last couple of years, the line-up competes with the festival’s big brother, the Antilliaanse Feesten. This year’s edition featured Daddy Yankee, Busy Signal, Farruko, DLG, Kes the Band, Fonseca, Vena (ex-Aventura) and Orquesta SCC (La Excelencia).

2014.06.23 Afro-Latino

Deep down the festival is more Latin and Caribbean than African. That’s okay, considering the fact that contemporary African artists are difficult to book without a network, especially compared to their South American counterparts. And a bit less reliable too.

The festival terrain had 3 stages and a 4th stage for DJ’s and dancing salsa. That’s a lot of space for only 7000 visitors. What striked me was the young crowd with many local people and families. This had an up side and a down side to it. Good was the laid back atmosphere at the festival terrain and the fact that one could easily obtain a front row seat. But, most guests didn’t seem to know any of the songs that were played and the night sometimes lacked the intensity of a real Latin party.
That could also be said from the campsite. Only one booming sound system, not much of drinking rum and no barbecues allowed, but a friendly vibe. In Bree they don’t have the commercial mentality of bigger festivals, no fights, no queuing in front of the shower and no tall security checks.

In conclusion the festival is highly recommended for next year, but unfortunately the organization is having financial problems due to a negative balance twice in a row.

Sergio George Presents Salsa Giants Plus EP

The legendary CD/DVD that captured the live concert of 10 salsa giants on the 31st of August in 2012 at the Curaçao North Sea Jazz Festival has a little follow up after the release of an EP featuring 5 more songs.

Salsa Giants EP

Disappointing about the songs again, is the fact that most live performances sound a little bit like studio recordings. On the other hand, this is more than compensated by the band, adapting to the signature style of each singer. The three extra live songs that have been selected for this EP are brought by Oscar d’Leon (Llolaras), Andy Montañez (Un Verano En Nueva York) and Luis Enrique (Tu No Le Amas Le Temes). Yet again, it is the studio song that thrives the compilation to higher heights. This new release is called Bajo La Tormenta.

In the collage of voices Ismael Miranda and La India (yes she should have been there in Curaçao as well) have been added to the all-star line-up. They join the joyful video together with José ‘El Canario’ Alberto, Willy Chirino, Oscar D’León, Andy Montañez and Tito Nieves. Sadly, this has also been the last recording of Cheo Feliciano.

Zacarias Ferreira – Mi Gusta Todo De Ti

La Voz De La Ternura (The Voice Of Tenderness), better known as Zacarias Ferreira, is helping the bachata genre picking up steam with his latest album release Mi Gusta Todo De Ti. If you would leave out the urban bachateros, Zacarias is one of the most meritorious bachata singers of this time, broadcasting Dominican music like no other. With his distinctive and slightly hoarse voice Zacarias Ferreira remains consistent in the quality of his songs. For those who like to stick to the original sound of bachata, this album is a must have.

2014.05.09 Zacarias Ferreira - Mi Gusta Todo De Ti

The first song of the album, Si Pudiera, is immediately affirming the quality of the production, with the typical build up of a bachata song. Two other delightful songs are Ahora Sé Que Me Quieres and Mirando Las Estrellas. The surprise of the album would be the last song, Mi Compañera. Perhaps unintentionally, this uplifting merengue song is likely to be the biggest hit of the album.

Kassav Live

2014.04.19 Kassav Live

Kassav’ was formed almost 35 years ago and the band has totally retained its strength. The core members (personal favorite Jacob Desvarieux, Georges Décimus, Jean Philippe Marthely, Jean Claude Naimro and Jocelyne Beroard) gave a very engaging and swinging show in Amsterdam. With an endless repertoire songs were often put into one big medley, loudly sang along by most of the audience, who seemed to know all the songs in French Antillean Creole, such as Siwo, Ou Lé, Zouk La Se Sel Medikaman Nou Ni, Soleil, Oh Madiana and Doméyis. It was an evening full of superior musicianship.

Tiken Jah Fakoly – Dernier Appel

Tiken Jah Fakoly has announced his 8th studio album by launching its title song, Dernier Appel. This time the Ivorian reggae singer has swapped the sword of his previous album (African Revolution) for a speaker.

Tiken Jah Fakoly - Dernier Appel

One would have to appreciate the fact that Tiken Jah upholds the French language, risking a smaller audience. His new song sets high expectations for the upcoming album, and fans of African reggae will instantly pick up on the warm french flow so typical for this sub genre.

The album Dernier Appel will be released on June 2 and contains 10 songs, 3 of them with featured artists: Alpha Blondy, Nneka and Patrice.

Pal Mundo 2014

2014.03.30 Pal Mundo

Caribbean Latin festival Pal Mundo in the Netherlands has launched itself by booking both El Rey del Reggaeton (Don Omar) and The King of Bachata (Romeo Santos). While Don Omar just didn´t show up because of a conflict with his tour manager, Romeo Santos gave a big show that saved the festival.
Nonetheless it were the artists on the two secondary stages that compensated for the numerous rookie mistakes of the festival and the poor shows by Elvis Crespo, Jowell & Randy and Tony Dize on the main stage. It was a shame the crowd preferred to stay in the large indoor stage which had the best atmosphere, disregarding artists like Luis Miguel del Amargue, Alison Hinds and Carimi.

I am very curious to see how this festival develops itself in the coming years. They should realize that the soul of a festival can not solely be generated by big artists that attract a more main stream audience. Yet it is Romeo’s powerful performance that combats this thesis.

Daddy Lumba – Awoso

There is a range of legendary artists on the African continent with a big track record behind their names, who just seem to forget promotion of their music. It can be very difficult with those artists to take notice of their new releases. Take Daddy Lumba for instance, Ghana top highlife vocalist with 27 albums to his credit. Some 2 months ago he has released a new album called Awoso. There is one particular song instantly taking me back to the streets of Accra and Kumasi and that I would like to share, Nea Nyame Tumi Ye.

The vocals, guitar and bass seem to be the only parts that are recorded in the studio, but the rest is just as well part of the Lumba vibes easily reaching your ears. This is one to put on repeat for a while (or skip back to 5:34 in the video).