By Leslie Simon
The Next Big Thing- Orquesta Akokán
Mambo! You can hear the hustle and bustle of the streets of Havana on Latin collective Orquesta Akokán’s self-titled album.
Signed to the independent New York City label Daptone Records, this Cuban big band has the ethos and sound to match the rest of Daptone’s acclaimed roster of funk and soul musicians. Led by the attention-demanding vocals of José Pepito Gómez, Daptone’s first Spanish-language release is a groove-infused album of all original songs, paying homage to the old school banda gigante sound of the ‘40s and ‘50s and the mambo kings.
The Yoruba (a western African people with a longstanding community in Cuba) word akokán means “from the heart,” and it is apparent by their authentic sounds and hot-Havana-nights rhythms that they truly are making music from the heart, for the heart.
Fans of Buena Vista Social Club will love their celebratory lyrics and textured orchestral sounds, and they really get the crowd moving with driving Afro-Cuban percussion. Sounding simultaneously 21st-century-fresh and timelessly vintage, Orquesta Akokán has been met with critical acclaim and bigger crowds at every show. Their album of mambo, salsa, and cha cha sounds was recorded live in three days at the legendary Areito Studios in Havana and released last spring, with the band touring the United States for the first time then as well- even playing the Lincoln Center!
Fiery, upbeat, joyful, infectious – Orquesta Akokán’s music will find a special place in your heart and their rhythm will stay in your bones. This summer sees them making appearances throughout festival season all over the United States and Europe, exposing them to ever-increasing audiences. See them at the Arvada Center Summer Concert Series this year, and you can say you “saw them when.”
Grab a dancing partner and see Orquesta Akokán at the Arvada Center on June 29th!