With a stronger grip on their heritage, Californian sextet take continental drift to insular swirl to celebrate Chicano chic with a few heavy guests.
One of a few Latin collectives whose contemporary handling of traditional influences has never been detached from its roots – often ideologically so – L.A.’s OZO couldn’t ignore the connection between cumbia and Caribbean music and, stressing this line, the band delved deep into the popular lore to put their stamp all over familiar material. In the sextet’s hands pieces such as “La Bamba” turn into fertile soil for tasty toasting the two cultures, while the appearance of Sly and Robbie on selected tracks spice up the Nahua sentiment which is quite prominent on many a song here.
Irresistible groove and rap of “De Paisano A Paisano” aside, it’s the most famous melodies that will draw the attention of an uninitiated listener, but “Besame Mucho” and Herb Alpert’s presence on the perennial only highlight the wondrous rest, with ska skip keeping modern hits like “Como La Flor” in the timeless traffic of delight. Yet whereas Juanes’ guitar shines on “Noa Noa” amidst infectious beats, the album’s driving force are Asdrubal Sierra’s many voices who, nevertheless, need Gaby Moreno’s purr on “Solamente Una Vez” for a duet.
There’s urban slant to “Evil Ways” as police sirens strike a chord with a piece’s message, and “Land Of 1000 Dances” has a new lyrical layer thanks to G-Love and Chali 2na rhymes: this shift of context, aligned with preserving the originals’ flavor, is what makes “Non-Stop Mexico – Jamaica” special. A mini-carnival, it’s a celebration of life.