Personnel: Rafael Mej¡a, C. Dominguez, Angel Villanueva (programming).
If Taj Mahal had been born in Cartagena, Colombia, chances are good that he would have sounded a lot like Joe Arroyo. Committed to the roots of his music, yet unafraid to introduce modern elements, Arroyo has established himself as both a great folk musicologist, and a vital contemporary voice. There are few in the ranks who can both present an indigenous style typically associated with staunch nationalism, and simultaneously show no one style preference over another, while performing everything with equal respect and grace. His fifth project for Discos Fuentes, Se Armo la Mona en Carnaval, style hops like a vagabond traveler from coast to island and back again. Every track features another deftly arranged and performed rhythm from his native Colombia, to Puerto Rico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and beyond. Like many Latin American artists who choose to forego Nueva York in preference to recording with their countrymen, some sound and production quality is lost. The timbre of the record is something U.S. audiences might associate with the late '70s. While it doesn't sound up to the minute, it's also not homogenized. Perhaps it is exactly this element that keeps Arroyo's voice fresh and authentic. It seems a good trade. ~ Evan C. Gutierrez