Setting aside politics for a spell, Cuba is a most interesting nation musically. Its location makes it idea for receiving influences from about half the world: North and South America continents, Africa, Europe. Alas, politics does sometimes dictate what music Cuban musics get heard outside of that island nation. There’s a wealth of styles, a lot more than recordings of jazz artists (Irakere, Gonzalo Rubalcaba) and the Buena Vista Social Club would have you believe. (Please note: I am not slighting either in any way, especially not the keys-ace Gonzalo R.) All the more reason to be excited about compilations such as Si Para Usted Vol. 2, subtitled The Funky Beats of Revolutionary Cuba.
There is a dazzling range of styles presented herein, from the rousing African-flavored funk of Los Barba to the suave Afro-Cuban rhythms bubbling under some snazzy keyboards of Hilario Duran (sounding like a Caribbean cross between Brian Auger and Ramsey Lewis) to the jazzy panorama of Los Papines (imagine a Cuban counterpart to Marvin Gaye’s What’s Goin’ On with some Les McCann overtones). The fuzzed-out electric guitar solo on the Los Caneyes’ selection sounds like a young, pugnacious Carlos Santana and and cool yet sultry cover of the Ides Of March (a Chicago-like jazz-rock band from, where else, the Chicago area) hit "Vehicle" by Orquesta De Musica Moderna. Yes, Dear Reader, you may’ve guessed this is not a disc for "purists" or snobs Si Para Usted 2 features amalgams of assorted international pop styles, Afro-Cuban sounds, funk, jazz, echoes of West and Central Africa and even late 1960/early 70s rock. It’s a collection that will appeal to the eclectic, to the devoted/"serious" music maven that can also appreciate a catchy pop tune.... and did I mention it’d make a fine off-the-beaten-path-type gift? (Recommended!)