Ill have to admit, Id just about gotten over the Latin-house thing. As much as I love clever percussive rhythms and sexy sounding Spanish vocals, I started to feel like every time I tuned into a house mix online, or went to a club, I was mired in the sameness of the sound. In spite of that, a couple of months ago, I slid Louie Vegas Elements of Life CD into my player with a glimmer of hope. I mean, after all, Louie Vega and Kenny Dope are, as they say, Masters at Work. They made Latin and Afro-Latin house music before there was such a thing. If anyones going to do it right, one or both of them will.
For Elements of Life, Vega pulls out all the stops, delving deeply into his cultural and spiritual roots, to create a collection of sounds that reach far beyond the Afro/Latin house label. Elements of Life features an infinitely talented nine-piece band alongside vocalists Anane and Raul Midon, spoken-word priestess, Ursula Rucker, and veteran house production duo, Blaze. The vocals, thoughtful, uplifting, inspiring, are written in several languages from English to French to Ananes native Cape Verdian.
The CD begins with a poignant spoken piece from Rucker, then segues into a remake of Chakachas Jungle Fever (also featured on Ubiquitys Rewind 3 compilation). Following are two previous releases, Brand New Day with Blaze, and last years Miami WMC/summer anthem Cerca De Mi. Mid-way through the CD you find Quimbombo, Vegas tribute to his uncle, salsa music king, Hector Lavoe. Lavoe recorded Quimbombo in 1967 with famed trombonist and producer Willie Colon. Here Vega melds Quimbombo with Cantos Para Chango, and Sunshine to create a delicious 10 minute trio of traditional salsa delight.
Elements of Life is a welcome addition to the Latin dance music roster, a large part of its appeal being that, like Vegas first full-length release Nuyorican Soul, it purely and simply represents the art of music.