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Siempre Afro-Latino

27/05/2022Olindo Records & Música Infinita Reintroduce 1968-Released Debut Full-Length By Venezuelan Salsa Group Los Kenya

Talk about the Swinging Sixties...Olindo Records sister label Música Infinita is currently working our speaker system with its second release, more than a year after dropping its inaugural reissue of Venezuelan jazz staple Gerry Weil's "The Message". This time, the label has dug up another masterpiece, presenting "the raw and uncompromising Afro-Latin sound" of late '60s Venezuelan salsa group Los Kenya and bandleader/pianist Ray Perez. "¡Siempre Afro-Latino!" is the outfit's 1968-released debut full-length that hits the ground running with infectious pizzazz. No time to teach you the footwork because this one is out the gate and not looking back. 

"The late '60s were a prolific period for outstanding Afro-Latin music in Venezuela, with multiple local labels releasing and distributing records by a myriad of homegrown talent" and, by the time he founded Los Kenya alongside Luis Arias and Alfredo Naranjo, Ray Perez already had an impressive track record with Los Dementes, "one of the best-known salsa bands in the country at the time." What set Los Kenya apart from other groups of their era was their 'two trumpets and a drum kit'-setup as opposed to the more commonly used big band backing. Adding a few more percussive elements and vocals to the mix, the stage was set for their debut release.

Championed by "a combination of original compositions – most of them written and arranged by Ray – a killer lineup of musicians and a [distinctive] approach to music, Los Kenya quickly became one of the most interesting new groups in the Venezuelan salsa scene," the description reads. Diving head on into the fray and narrating their advances deep into 'salsaland', Los Kenya waste no time in setting the barrio ablaze with inimitable swagger and overpowering grooves. Perez's piano is flanked by frequent trumpet stabs, delectable bass lines, frenetic yet controlled rhythms and commanding call-and-response vocals, creating an impenetrable wall of sound that is just as enticing as it is relentless. Absolutely scorching!

You can stream/buy the full release as of today via the Bandcamp player and/or preview the fun companion visuals to "Record en TV" below.

Los Kenya are:
Ray Perez (piano)
Luis Arias & Luis Lewis (trumpets)
Alberto Naranjo (drums)
Miguel Silva (bass)
Pedro 'Guapacha' Garcia (congas)
Ali 'Cosa Buena' Rojas (bongos)
Carlin Rodriguez & Ray Perez (vocals)

AUTHOR: Lev Nordstrom