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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Palo Congo

Sabu

1957

Palo Congo

Album Summary

Palo Congo is the first album by conguero Sabu Martinez, featuring Arsenio Rodríguez and his brothers Raúl and "Quique". It was recorded and released in 1957 through Blue Note Records.

Wikipedia

Rating

2.75

Votes

3680

Genres

  • World
  • Jazz
Reviews
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1

Look, I'll be the first to admit that I probably just don't "get" this. But the plain fact was this was painful to listen to. It's repetitive noise. You would have to be just REALLY into conga drums to love this album. There's a 6 minute track that's NOTHING BUT CONGAS. And the next one is a 4 minute track of MOSTLY congas broken up by random yells and loud samba whistles. On the tracks where there ARE vocals, they're off-key shrieks accompanied by extraordinarily shrill "harmonies" (if you can call them that). It's. The. WORST. Hands down. Listening to this album makes me angry.

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5

Afro-cubano, muito bom, infelizmente tem poucos albuns q nao sao em ingles nessa lista...

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4

Not heard this before. Because it's an older stereo recording you get things pushed real hard left and right and I don't love that on headphones. Also being older the recording is a touch on the raw side but it suits the sound I think. I'll listen again on speakers and will probably like it more that way. In a weird way this reminds me of krautrock in it's trance like repetition and jamming. I like the textured/layered rhythm and the tendency towards chanting. It actually sounds very experimental to me yet rooted in something that feels ancient and raw. The birth of the groove. Man, can you imagine seeing this being performed live in a jazz club back in the day?

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1

This album congo fuck itself

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5

holy crap, fucking amazing. super swinging' and stuff. i love the sweet syncopated rhythms, and the panning of, say, a guitar all the way to the right - which usually annoys me - is more fun than anything here.

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5

I had to actively ignore Rudy Van Gelder's name to get on board with this one. The recording is the weakest part, at least in terms of pleasantness. There's plenty of information preserved, and the beat information in particular is of such density that I can't help but love it. I've only been affected by rhythms in this way by EDM records in the past, but this is all humans all the time. I took and left the often harsh tone elements, but there's enough variety on here to make me question the wisdom of that move.

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4

This might be one of my fav discoveries via using this generator. The Cuban rhythms on congo are very intoxicating and dancy. The chanty vocals add to a very nice atmosphere. Blue Note does not miss and this is a very very very good album.

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4

In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, before In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida was In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. But Cuban. This album is 65 years old and sounds like it was recorded down in the barrio yesterday. While it seems out of place for a Blue Note record, latin-jazz ushered the way in for the Bossa Nova craze that would come in a short decade. This was a fun listen and I plan on buying this on vinyl to have a dance party in my living room.

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3

My SIL first moved over here from Cuba in the early 2000s. If you ever want to feel like cementing yourself as the most awkward white-guy dancer in a crowd, go to a Cuban party. The guy talking at the start of the 2nd track was sick. The drumming makes me want to slap a barstool for a pub conga solo

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1

This is the first time I've listened to a rumba album. I sincerely hope it was the last time I've listened to a rumba album.

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5

Great great great! Music that makes you swing your hips and move your feet! Probably a good thing no one else was around when I listened... injuries may have occurred...

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5

Loved to dance through such a historical day

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5

this was so different than any other music I ever listen to and I loved it!

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5

Loved it. Very energetic

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5

This is so good to listen to while working, hypnotic and energetic, a+ flow

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5

É um ótimo álbum para se sentir animado e contagiado numa noite de sexta-feira! AMEI!

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5

Aí sim, baita sonzao

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5

Enjoyed it, although it didn’t blow my mind or anything

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4

Pretty great. I didnt really like other cuban inspired albums (buena vista social club), but I found this one a lot more interesting.

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4

Delightful. Will definitely dip back into this album when I need something of this flavor

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4

Gets me hyped! Cool to know he started mambo

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4

Great listen. Tons of fun.

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4

Really feeling this album. I like how you can hear all the distinct parts so clearly. The percussion feels like it's right there. Loved the guitar on "Rhapsodia Del Maravilloso."

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4

Großartig! Solch spröde Instrumentierung und solch tiefes Verständnis von Trance. Liebe das einfach und unmittelbar mal ganz ohne theoretische Verirrung 4.4

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4

Salsaaaa

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4

Very fun! man can drum, and the singing was fun but maybe a bit repetitive

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4

Classic and cool

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4

I've never fully dived into latin jazz, probably as some of the famous albums I've checked out have been a bit clean/safe/chilled sounding. This one is WILD. Lots of hypnotic drumming and chanting. Very strong roots in African traditional folk musics, with the jazz and latin sounds making this a fusion feast. Would like more in this vein please. 4*

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4

Spanish bongo music. Fun listen

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4

Made me do a little jig

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4

I didn’t love everything, and the vocals were especially rough at points, but some of the rhythms spoke to me on what I can only describe as a primal level. 7/10

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4

Groovy beats. 8

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4

Big fan!! ONLY four because I don't know Spanish that well. Such good music production/lighthearted tunes.

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4

Nice tunes. A great album.

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4

interesting

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4

gang

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4

Very catchy rhythms and chants, with the additional instrumentation supplementing them well

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4

Fux

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4

Great beats! Very inventive. I loved the song Simba.

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4

Good music that must have been very unusual to the American ear when it was first released

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4

Fun - hadn't heard of Sabu and this was a good listen. I'm not authoritative on this genre but it held its own with other stuff I've heard by Tito Rodriguez, Puente, etc.

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4

Kubanska salsa ili rumba je uvijek ima rezervirano mjesto u mojim u ušima.

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4

Liked it, but have to be in the mood

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4

transported back to Africa

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4

Pretty great Cuban music.

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4

Definitely raised my mood

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4

98 albums into 1001 and this is only the 3rd non-english album, and that's being generous in considering Kraftwerk's Trans Europe Express as being non-english. Is this list really that myopically focused on english language albums? This album is a perfect example of why the voices of the whole world need to be included in this list. With just some congas (I'm not even sure it isn't just one) and vocals the track 'Billumba-Palo Congo' shows the purity of Sabu's energy. While other tracks bring in one or two more instruments, the album continues on in much the same way. Each track is bare bones in its arrangement, but in no way does that compromise or undermine their ability to get your feet tapping and your hips moving. The album is vivd and proof to me that I don't need to speak the same language to appreciate the impact of good music. Perhaps more "Top X" lists need to take that into consideration.

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4

Love a good Latin jazz-type album on this list, always refreshing. Some fantastic percussion on here, and the vocals are all over the place in a good way. I especially love that albums like this are from the '50s, it just feels so timeless. Shoutout to Blue Note and whoever else took the time and resources to make albums and preserve music like this. Favorite tracks: Asabache, Choferito-Plena, El Cumbanchero. Album art: Really love this, the bold colors are great. It's a simple band photo dramatically elevated by basic framing, text, and colors. Some of these old school jazz/international music covers are fantastic. 4/5

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4

Great jazz album! At least that is how it was listed on Apple music. Felt like fusion in some moments as well, much more focus on the drums than other instruments but also singing too. I really enjoyed this one.

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4

It's hard to believe this came out in the 50s. It seems ahead of it's time.

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4

good but unremarkable afro-jazz. I enjoyed it.

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4

I'm a sucker for Latin jazz. Love the tracks with call-and-response hooks. Lot of energy. Wish it continued through the whole thing, but the bongo-solo song kind of lost me. Favorite tracks: "Billumba-Palo Congo", "Choferito-Plana"

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4

Very fun album! Hard not to dance. Very very raw though.

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4

Just a nice and good time. Some killer drum work. This Sabu fellow has an interesting pedigree. I like it!

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4

You can always tell when an album will be 🔥 just from the cover. Best part of this one is the first playlist recommendation on Spotify is Boogaloo Essentials

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4

Really great rhythms. Love the melodies that come from repetitive percussion. I'm also impressed to have encountered a bad stereo recording from the 50s. I didn't think that technology was available yet.

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4

Kind of slow towards the end of the album but makes great easy listening

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4

CRIOLLO BUENOS DIAS!

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4

Interesting

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4

They are great.

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3

Very solid drumming skill, got a good driving rythm to it. I enjoy this as background music but it's not a thing I'd want to typically listen to.

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3

If I could understand what they were saying I would probably love it.

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3

It likely inspired the genre which is amazing but the album itself sounded like a bunch of pals just trying to figure out what to do at first.

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3

not really my thing, but cool to listen to something different

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3

Papi Congo is Spanish Jazz, while I am not totally familiar with the genre I’ve heard it in other media. It definitely transports you to a different place, for me it reminded me of walking through some of the markets in Mexico while the dry heat engulfs you. Great music to have on the background while doing something around the house where you might find yourself moving to the beat.

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3

A lot of cool rhythm, but not much more

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3

Latin: oft nicht mein Ding. Zu viel Ayayayayay, zu viele hektische Bläser, zu viele Salsaklischees für meinen Geschmack. Das hier aber (hört gut zu, Bongonazis aller Stadtparks in den 90ern und geht zurück in eure Keller!), das gefällt mir sehr gut. Ob in den toll rohen reinen Percussion-Nummern, in den Call-and-Response-Machismospielchen oder auch in den eher lieblichen, für mich dann doch auch nach vertrauterem Latin klingenden Gesangsnummern. Hat ne Tür aufgestoßen und bringt locker 3,4 Punkte. Ayayayay!

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3

Ritmos chulos

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3

Good, solid nandos music

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3

okay

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3

false

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3

Like African traditional music, bit of a more samba Latin-American sounding vibe going on too, especially compared to stuff like Ali Farka Toure. Decent still. 3/5.

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3

Samba im Homeoffice! Der Soundtrack einer karibischen Cocktailbar. Wo ist mein Mojito?

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3

Didn’t finish

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3

Definitely good sound, but don't think I'd come back to it.

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3

Liked it but its not the same when you are sat at a desk working as opposed to up and dancing.

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3

An album as old as me ! It wasn’t bad 3*

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3

This was interesting and a nice change, but I found it really repetitive and only really liked the tracks that had guitar. I can’t be too harsh on it though bc I think my issues were mostly just bc of me not having an ear for the genre. 6/10

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3

Wow, this was great. If this album doesn't make you want to move, check your pulse. Percussive and energetic with song structures that are loose and improvisational. You just have to let go, embrace the groove and stop expecting a song to go somewhere all the time. Fave songs: El Cumbanchero, Choferito Plena, Billumba-Palo Congo, Tribilin Cantore

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3

Nice solid album

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3

This album has been difficult for me to get into. It's more sparse than I'm used to and despite the familiar rhythms (which have appeared in western music since) the melodies remain a bit out of reach. I'm sure that says more about me than the music itself, but maybe it'll click eventually

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3

Congas. Lots of congas

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3

Fun but one song blended in to the next. It sounded like one long, energetic song.

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3

3.5 - Some cool polyrhythmic, call-and-response folk songs. A nice palate cleanser from all the post-punk, British electronica and Neil Young.

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3

I like this. Not usually what I'd chose to listen to, but it is infectious.

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3

Interesting, because it's so different. I'm old enough to remember when they used to play El Cumbanchero on the radio.

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3

Overall I enjoyed listening to it, but by the second song my wife made me turn it off the Sonos and listen with headphones

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3

Definitely never heard this and I don't feel culturally-literate enough to understand it's importance. At the risk of seeming like I'm lumping black/brown people music together, I will say that I love the polyrhythms and they remind me of a stripped down version of Fela Kuti. Eeek. Hope that's ok to say. I can't tell if I wish there were more instruments or if I like the simple arrangements. The real highlight other than the rhythms is the vocals. Lots of back-and-forth. Cool. It's good. I feel like I'm not a good judge. Giving it a three.

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3

This was fun.

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3

Too much nativity drums and singing…

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3

Nisam stigo poslušat pa nisam iskreno ni mislio, however kad vidim od Bakija keca i Anite 4, reko moram. I zapravo je ovo super album, ne bih si ga nikad pustio, ali bi tipa def otišao na neki koncert toga bez razmišljanja. RESPECT!

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3

A different spin from 1001, this gives us some Afro-Cuban jams that a very much rhythmically-focused. As the name suggests, prepare for the congas. It's a nice slice from another part of the world, though the vocals leave little to be desired. It's best to consider them as part of the rhythm, with their call-and-response style that grounds the music. Overall, it's pretty simple, so it's not much to be impressed by. Sometimes a nice little album showcasing music from outside of the usual countries is all that's needed.

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3

3.5

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3

Now I know where Tune Yards comes from. I wish I understood the lyrics. Flagging for later so I can grok this fully.

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3

Fun album

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3

An optimistic album with a sunny Caribbean sound. I like the tracks where they get wild or play the guitar well. Not all the tracks offer something, but there are plenty of pleasant surprises all throughout. They know when to sing / shout, or when to just let the instruments do the work. Favorites: Choferito-Plena, Simba, Tribilin Cantore

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3

Fine, but not for me

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3

Good background music. Can't say I would just go listen to this as it's not that exciting, so won't rate higher than a 3.

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3

Conga music that focuses just a bit too much solely on the rythm to provide any but a decent but not very memorable experience

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3

Interesting for exposure but I prefer more melody and instrumentation in my Cuban music, not just the rhythm.

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3

Fun record

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3

Mais opção de música cubana.

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3

Curiós descobriment musical. Fusió de sonoritats caribenyes, africanes amb tocs de jazz i treballs vocals sorprenents. Original i força interessant

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3

Znowu egzotycznie, ale nie tak czarno jak w poprzednich dniach, bo wylosowalo klimaty kubanskie, a jak kuba to i rumba, bo takim gatukiem jest okreslana Palo Congo wedlug wiki, ale blizej temu do afro kubanskiego jazzu w swojej pierwotnie prymitywnej formie, bo jest to album z 57, dodatkowo jest to pierwsze nagranie pan Sabu, czyli Sabu Martineza, jako dyrygenta tej congowej orkiestry skladajacej sie z 5 czlonkow, dodatkowymi instrumentami jakie mozna zaslyszec na nagrania jest kontrabas i bongosy, no i elektryczna gitara, ktora jest tutaj najwiekszym zaskoczeniem na traku rhapsodia del maravilloso czy tribilín cantore, ale tak jak tytul wskazuje jest to congowy album, a nie ma chyba instrumentu ktory bardziej kojarzy niz sie z muzyka pierwotna grana u zarania dziejow jak wlasnie afrykanskie bebny, w tym wypadku kubanskie kongi, ktore na kawalkach calkowicie instrumentalnych jak asabache, czy pierwsza czesc simba potrafia wrecz zahipnotyzowac swym brzmieniem, ale nie jest to plyta calkowicie instrumentalna, bo rownie wazne jak instruemtale dla tonu tego nagrania sa takze wokale, ktore stanowia czesci centralne wokol ktorych budowana jest muzyka na wiekszosci utworow, a wokale sa prowadzone zazwyczaj w formie dialogow pomiedzy majstrem, moze konduktorem Sabu, a reszta skladu lub chorkami o kobiecych glosach powtarzajacych slowa konduktora, pomimo tego ze czlek rozumie jedno na dziesiec slow rzucanych na lewo i prawo, glownie na prawo, bo mastering zazwyczaj wrzuca wokale na prawa strone na kongosy na lewy kanal, ale nie jest to regula, bo podczas dialogow pytanie dobiega z prawej, zeby dostac odpowiedz z lewej i tak dalej, wiec niezbyt duzo zrozumialem, ale klimat odczulem na wlasnych uszach, tak jak pierwotnie moga brzmiec kongosy, takie dialogi rowniez wprowadzaja jakas ogniskowa atmosfere, wiec kolejny niespodziewany pick na tak bialej liscie, na plejke dodam otwierajacy el cumbanchero i wspomniany juz wczesniej instrumental asabache

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3

dancing in my chair 🕺 puts me back in Havana

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3

Rumba cubana

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3

Nandos music

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3

Забавная музыка. Этника. Не моё, но прикольно. Весело.

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3

There's something oddly ancient about this, which is not just because the record is, frankly, 65 years old; for some reason it doesn't feel like a 1957 recording made in a New York studio, it feel much older and stranger somehow. Can't explain it. Far from my usual fodder, but I like it.

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3

Not bad, wouldn't go out of my way to listen to it again

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3

Palo Congo is a solid Latin jazz album. However, we already had Tito Puente and Machito. I would have preferred a Django Reinhardt album. (5/10) FT: El cumbanchero

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3

en plein ce a quoi je m'attendais. Un bon band de jazz des antilles. C'est très bon 3.5

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3

Drums and call and response, that’s it

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3

pretty decent but not really my thing

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3

Good jazz, enjoyed the vibe

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2

Enerverende afrikansk trommemusik. Meget gentagende og langt. Ikke noget for mig

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2

Doesn't do a whole lot for me, it's not offensive and just sorta there. It was in the background while I was coding and it wasn't the worst. Very rhythm heavy, obviously. But, ehh. I finished the album and some other random ones came up in the playlist by Sabu (Volvera for example), which were much more interesting.

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2

Wel lekker latin albumpje, maar niet geweldig

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2

Not my type in of vibe

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2

cuban jazz. Enjoyed some of the more tuneful parts, but also a lot of rambling rhythmic chanty bits that were repetitive and boring. Not sure this is my kinda thing, don't think i'd listen again.

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2

1957, Cuban rumba

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2

was fun to listen to and read about

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2

Classic 50s Cuban music with some afro vibes. 4/10.

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2

Wouldn't seek the album out to listen to again.

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2

Different, but not particularly good

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2

Just a bunch of talk

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2

Didn't hate this but not feeling it today, couldn't finish.

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2

Not my vibe, I couldn’t find the gem but still quality sound.

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2

It's ok.

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2

I might be able to chalk this up to my own ignorance but I just couldn't get too into this. Not being much of a samba fan at all, I can still give credit to the decent musicianship but I don't love the singing ("Simba" in particular is especially annoying). Maybe would be more up my alley if this were all instrumental - e.g. "Rhapsodia Del Maravilloso" is a highly enjoyable uptempo song highlighted by fantastic guitar playing. 2 stars for feeling like I can't rate it properly - just not my bag. 3/10 2 stars

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2

i didn’t hate it but i didn’t really like it. i thought it was kinda boring and repetitive but i liked the drumming, but it was a lot of similar stuff throughout.

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2

4/10. The second song was pretty annoying. Wait, I think that might just be the whole album. The songs are so long and repetitive. The ones that are just instrumentals are actually alright, but nothing super exciting. Overall not my favorite, but nothing that stands out as awful

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2

Really puts the "Afro-" in Afro-Cuban. Typical Latin sounds morphing into tribal beats and back. Good grooves, but really repetitive and a bit too raw for me.

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2

I want to be respectful of other cultures, but this ain't it. There are three tracks on this album that are worth mentioning. The others are repetitive, borderline nonsensical calls-and-response over congas. Lots and lots of congas. Congas for days. You better really like congas if you're going to pick this one up. Best track: Choferito-Plena

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2

Not great. Congo drums not the move

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2

Aparte muziek. Iets wat ik normaal nooit luister. Klinkt wel gezellig. Een heel album is me wel iets teveel. Heb ook geen idee of dit album beter of slechter is dan normaal. Voor mij persoonlijk leuk voor een paar nummers, maar niet helemaal lineair te luisteren. De nummers met alleen getrommel irriteren me vooral. **

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2

Yeah, it’s peppy.

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2

I respect it.

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2

Great conga playing but not my style for a regular listen. Glad it was included though

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2

Muy mnie también.

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2

This is another album I'm not equipped to judge. But I'll do it. :) Pros: These songs only have percussion, one guitar, and vocals. That's actually an impressive level of simplicity. Also, I do like the "call and answer" vocals on a lot of these songs. It's fun. Cons: I don't get it. I don't really know what I'm listening to, what makes it good, who else performs in the genre, etc.

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2

it's good for a couple of songs as it's very different and the bongo solos are awesome, but by the end it feels like just bongos and shouting

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2

I can imagine this encapsulates the Cuban sound very well but to me an average listener its just loud noises that come off as very annoying. Especially in the second track which is just frequent yelling over bongo drums. However I did actually really enjoy the opening track. It's probably something that I just don't understand but this isn't an album I would be running to tell my friends and family about.

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2

I liked Rhapsodia Del Maravilloso. The rest was not for me.

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2

not my thing at all

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2

What the fuck?

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2

Good

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2

Didn’t mind this but got a little repetitive by the end

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2

So 'Sabu' was a percussionist... that makes sense. The tunes with guitar etc are delightful, but 4/8 tracks of just hypnotic drumming and vocals is a lot, even for me. Probably best experienced live, outdoors, while performing some sort of mystic ritual.

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2

An interesting listen, and an important "historical" document for fans of the genre (and conga players, I imagine). But I doubt even them will select this as the sort of album out of whom they take the most pleasure overall. But what do I know about those things, eh? Number of albums left to review or just listen to:  more than 900, I've temporarily lost count here Number of albums from the list I find relevant enough to be mandatory listens:  approximately a half so far Albums from the list I *might* include in mine later on: a quarter  Albums from the list I will certainly *not* include in mine (many others are more important): the last quarter (including this one)

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2

okay. This style of music is not my favorite.

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2

Heard before: no Another album where I’m sure the context would elevate it - if I was listening to the band perform live, I might tell you it’s amazing. Listening to it while doing the dishes, however, I got lost and bored.

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2

Got better as the album wore on, but I will give it a miss

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1

Had a go at a few tracks. I'm sure it's an important record in its genre but... would I ever choose to listen to it? No.

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1

It was interesting and different and it's nice to see things like this on the list. Unfortunately it took only about two tracks before it started to give me a headache. I made it through the whole thing, just out of curiosity, but my brain didn't like it at all.

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It was originally a 2, but on listening to it a second time I really hated the second track and I just found it was all background and not super engaging.

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Not for me

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Wasn't able to listen to all the songs. Really not a fan of it

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not for me

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Another awful album

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More like a bongo jam session with some call and response shouting than an actual album. Not enjoyable at all.

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not a fan

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Ich dachte, ich würde dieses Album gut finden. Tatsächlich finde ich es furchtbar. Bitte gerne nie wieder.

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Nope

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Really didnt like.....

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Interesting, not really clickin’ though, drums are cool, very lively. Not for me

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This is something I would love to experienced in person. Just filled with alcohol and drugs dancing next to my partner late into the night. Would have been super fucking sweet. However, That's not what this is though. Maybe I've missed something, I realize there is probably some skill within the drums. But I don't super like this one at all. Felt like a headache. Maybe it's the age, the shrieking, the bad mixing. I don't know but it doesn't work for me.

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nope nope

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Jedino bih mogao slušati da je u filmu nekom u pozadini. Ovako mi ništa ne znači. Previše bubnjeva za razliku od gitare kao što je u Rhapsodia Del Maravilloso - jedina prolazna stvar.

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Oef. Ik hou van de Spaanse taal maar dit is ronduit afschuwelijk. M'n neuroses zijn aangewakkerd.

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Dit was zenuwslopend! Heb er alleen maar wat doorheen geskipt want het was echt niet te harden.

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Hier ben ik echt niet voor in de stemming. Klinkt allemaal hetzelfde.

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Trommels en geschreeuw, ik word er nerveus van

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Did absolutely nothing for me.

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Did not care for this.

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Je trouve intéressant d'avoir un album de cette année là. Il y a aussi peu d'album de musique latine. Par contre, ce n'est pas si bon ni si extraordinaire malgré certains bons moments. Sûrement qu'il y avait d'autres albums de cette époque qui auraient plus mérités d'être présentés ici.

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Je vois mal la pertinence de cet album dans cette liste. Surtout à cause de ce qu’on y trouve en général, mais aussi à cause de l’intérêt de celui-ci. On a plus l’impression d’un jam que d’une production musicale.

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No thanks. Old School salsa. Nothing wrong with that, but find the percussion element too dominant. Result is a lot of energy, but as well very stressed.

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Not a big conga guy lol

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