15.11.13 : Mayimbe – El Amigo

Good evening amigos!

Today I present you a Cuban-Peruvian band based at Lima, Peru, who have just released their 2nd album.

Orquesta Mayimbe was conceived during January 2010 by Cuban pianist Barbaro Fines Forte, residing at Lima.
Barbaro had worked with some timba bands in Cuba, including La Charanga Forever, Isaac Delgado, Alain Daniel and Paulito FG, and also Los Conquistadores De La Salsa in Peru.

With Lima being a local Timba powerhouse, Barbarito did not have much trouble forming his band from Cuban musician living at the city and some Peruvian musicians as well.
The band made its 1st appearance late May 2010, becoming an immediate hit in Peru, and a few months later world wide, as samples reached DJs all over the world.

Their 1st album, “De La Habana A Peru” (released in 2011), is a treasure trove of wonderful compositions, which quickly became a best seller among salsa fans, with many of its songs filling the dance floors in clubs and parties around the globe.
Their 2012 European and 2013 US tours were sold quickly, bringing the joy of a live Timba show to tens of thousands of fans on 2 continents…
The next tour, BTW, is planned for spring 2014!

In late 2012 an unfortunate event took place – the band lost one of its most recognizable symbols, singer Rafael Labarrera (yes, son of Los Van Van conguero Manuel “Manolo” Labarrera) …
After the initial conflict, Rafael formed his own band with some other ex-Mayimbe members who left together with him, using the name “Rafael Labarrera y Su Orquesta Mayimbe” , causing confusion among fans and promoters.
Barbarito even had to do some explanation when Rafael was arrested in early 2013 for traveling a false passport.

During late 2012 – early 2013 Mayimbe lost many members:
Bongocero \ Campanero Jose Luis Hernandes Rivas “el Agatur”, Drummer Alvaro Soto Guzman, Timbalero Jose Luis Sanchez, Bassist Luis Camilo Gomez Perez, Horn players Walther Mamani, Christian Zapata Julca, Luis Cuenca Izarnotegui, and Edwin Sanchez Reyes.
If this was not enough, Angelito Ramirez left as well, and thus, Mayimbe had to replace most of their vocalists, which can clearly be heard on their present release, “Los Mensajeros de Dios”, their 2nd album.

For me this CD is a huge disappointment, as one can really feel the unfavorable changes in personnel, musicians and singers alike (I definitely miss Angelito, Rafa, Marcelo, Miguel and Alain…) .
Out of 10 tracks on the album, only 4 are worth mentioning;
1 – Como Duele, a very nice Son flavoured composition
2 – Changany, a song first recorded before the split, with great Afro references, drive and tempo changes
3 – La bendicion, a fast paced hard hitter about the Orishas
and finally, the song I present you tonight,
4 – El Amigo, or how I personally call it, “8 minutes and 16 seconds of fun!”

The song is a masterpiece, made in the original spirit of Mayimbe.
It is a true test of vitality and stamina for the dancers, lasting a whole whooping 8 minutes and 16 seconds, with absolutely a 100% of them done the way Timba should be.
Unlike other songs from the album (such as “la chica chocolate” or “no me lastimes”) which though shorter (but still quite long, over 6 minutes), and just drag on in a boring, monotonic waste of your time and energy, this one has a wonderful course of development throughout the whole composition, plenty of interesting elements and rhythmic surprises, and lots of drive, while not being too exhausting.

The rest is just disappointing, whether being plain boring and monotonous, loosing the Clave based groove and structure, replacing the Afro Cuban rhythmical elements with commercialized western ones (from balads, pop etc.), thus completely severing the connection with the Afro-Latin-Caribbean heritage of salsa music…

The higher they climb the harder they fall;
While their 1st album was full of hits, with most compositions well made, interesting and fresh, and a magnificent lineup of talented musicians, the current album is a mere shadow of the bands’ former glory, consisting mostly of mediocre, boring or simply strange (maybe failed experiments?) compositions, with a few gems hidden in between.

Anyway, this is one of those gems mentioned above, so do check it out 🙂


Or the album version, if you prefer…

4 thoughts on “15.11.13 : Mayimbe – El Amigo

  1. antonio

    Hi, I love mayimbe, it’s my favorite timba band . My favorite tracks on this album are El uno ahora, no me lastimes and changany. I’d be curious of reading what you think of changany which IMHO has a very nice and surprising upsidedown structure. I’d be happy to chat , you ve got my email 🙂

  2. Pingback: 01.01.16 : New year’s blog’s 3 year special – DJing Cuban music for dummies! | Che's Music Blog

  3. Pingback: 05.02.16 : Mayimbe – Aguardiente | Che's Music Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *