For many of you Latin music fans, the name Bobi Cespedes is a familiar one. Along with brother, Luis, and nephew, Guillermo, Bobi has spent the past 20 years ripping up stages worldwide with the incendiary Afro-Cuban group, Conjunto Cespedes (in fact, if you don’t have Flores, do yourself a favor and get it). Bobi’s vocals, aside from sounding remarkably like Celia Cruz, overwhelm you with their beauty and power.
It is that same power (but definitely not any “purist” resentment) that makes Rezos a difficult disc to review. While Six Degrees’ electro-fusion experiments usually do work, this cross-cultural creole seems to stutter a bit. Cespedes’ voice still retains much of its beauty. It’s just that producer Greg Landau’s Afrobeat/neo-Latin funk vision seems to take away from it. Much of Conjunto Cespedes’ sound is so exquisitely visceral it tears at the flesh, where this disc feels sanitized. Yes, a lot of the music does work (especially “Nuevo Milenio”), but so does a fast food cashier. Bobi fans expect more — and more chants, definitely. While I definitely applaud the effort to expand Cespedes’ repertoire, I wish the execution would’ve been sharper. It makes me wish that maybe Omar Sosa or Susana Baca would’ve been given a chance to dabble with Bobi. Or even Masters at Work, for something completely different (they have done some great treatments of Tito Puente, as an example).
Six Degrees Records: http://www.sixdegreesrecords.com/