I'm excited about a new tropical Latin record called "Viva Africando." It was the brainchild of Malian arranger and music director Boncana Maïga.
The band actually started 20 years ago and this is its eighth album.
One of the things I love about "Viva Africando" is all the singers from different West African countries. For example, there's veteran Senegalese singer Medoune Diallo and Gnonnas Pedro from Benin. They bring a whole new energy to this music.
Here's a bit of background: the West African love affair with Cuban and Latin music started in the early 1950s. That's when a boatload of 78 rpm records got dropped off in port cities.
The West Africans went crazy for it. They heard something familiar in it, but the music was like a new and improved version of what they knew.
I can't say enough good things about "Viva Africando." It's truly a love letter to Puerto Rico and Cuba from all these great West African
and Caribbean musicians.