San Lazaro La Despedida Album Review

Ahead of their performance at Global Rhythms in 2017 we thought we’d revisit Paris Pompor’s review of La Despedida

San Lazaro

LA DESPEDIDA
(Hope Street Recordings)

four and half stars

Having earlier impressed with scorching subcontinental soundtrack stylings, last year Australia’s quality soul/funk record label, Hope Street Recordings expanded their non-Western musical reach by switching operations up a gear and releasing a seriously good Latin long-player from Melbourne’s Quarter Street band. Sharing a horn player with that group (Cuban-born Lazaro Numa) now three amigos known as San Lazaro up the ante. Expanding to a dirty dozen for the critical mass needed to execute these brass-charged, highly percussive workouts, their latest album draws inspiration from musical movements like early Nuyorican, rumba, son and South-American protest folk, reshaping the rhythms and romance of much of the Afro-Latin tradition in the process. Luckily it sounds terrific. Impassioned and at times quirky – in a kind of Tex-Mex way – one minute we’re demounting for what feels like an imminent desert shoot-out, the next we’re falling heart over heels in a cantina dance floor entanglement. Changing cadences and tempos in hairpin turns, a closing ballad that translates to Barking Dogs nurses both heartache and a rum-fuelled headache, while an earlier nod to Nino Rota’s Love Theme from The Godfather is brilliantly bent.

Paris Pompor