Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1099

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The Bongolian: Harlem Hipshake (Blow Up Records)

The Bongolian: Harlem Hipshake (Blow Up Records) REVIEW



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UK release date 13.11.2020

The Bongolian has certainly been carving out quite a niche over the several years of being in existence. He’s built a solid reputation with a cult following that by all accounts, listening to this explosive Latin based extravaganza, is going to propel him into the mainstream - he’s certainly paid his dues and is receiving support from the likes of DJ/presenter/tv & radio personality and actor Craig Charles and many other tastemakers and shakers. This thrilling album set to be an important release this year and it’s wholly justified.

The opener “Give The Drummer Some” certainly sets out his mission statement. There’s a raft of bongos and explosive timbales rattling all over the place before a groovy organ kicks in giving way to a propulsive drum break that you hopes never ends. This tune alone is an impressive start to proceedings.

Hot on its heels is the title track “Harlem Hipshake”, another strong cut with fat horns and again another stinging drum break. Add some gorgeous and necessary jazz flute and bound together with an electric piano montuno. Quite simply, top-notch stuff!

Keeping his foot firmly on the pedal, he ramps up proceedings further with “Eastside Rumble”, a track that is chock-full of blaring horns. These include Terry Edwards (Trumpet, Trombone, Sax, Flute), Gareth James Bailey (Trombone) and Craig Crofton (Alto Sax), James Morton (Alto Sax), Andrew Ross (Tenor and Baritone sax) and Ralph Lamb (Trumpet)… the crème de la crème, basically! Do I need to wax lyrical about this any further? No, I thought not, you get the picture. “Harlem Hipshake; sees The Bongolian in full party swing mode.

This is an irresistible blending of Latin and soul music, which will significantly help to bring about the rise of the Afro-Latin funk revolution and we know who will be leading it! A knock out delight!
Words Emrys Baird

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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