15.11.13 : Mayimbe – El Amigo

Good evening amigos!

Today I present you a Cuban-Peruvian band based at Lima, Peru, who have just released their 2nd album.

Orquesta Mayimbe was conceived during January 2010 by Cuban pianist Barbaro Fines Forte, residing at Lima.
Barbaro had worked with some timba bands in Cuba, including La Charanga Forever, Isaac Delgado, Alain Daniel and Paulito FG, and also Los Conquistadores De La Salsa in Peru.

With Lima being a local Timba powerhouse, Barbarito did not have much trouble forming his band from Cuban musician living there and some Peruvian musicians as well.
The band made its 1st appearance at late May 2010, becoming an immediate hit in Peru, and a few months later world wide, as samples reached DJs all over the world.

Their 1st album, “De La Habana A Peru”, released in 2011, is a collection of musical masterpieces (IMO), which quickly became a best selling album among salsa fans, with many of its songs filling the dance floors in clubs and parties around the world.
Their 2012 European and 2013 US tours were sold quickly, bringing the joy of a live Timba show to tens of thousands of fans on 2 continents…
The next tour, BTW, is planned for spring 2014!

In late 2012 an unfortunate event took place – te bnad lost one of its most recognizable symbols, singer Rafael Labarrera (yes, son of Los Van Van conguero Manuel “Manolo” Labarrera) …
After the initial conflict, Rafael formed his own band with some other ex-Mayimbe members who left together with him, using the name “Rafael Labarrera y Su Orquesta Mayimbe” , causing confusion among fans and promoters.
Barbarito even had to do some explanation when Rafael was arrested in early 2013 for traveling a false passport.

During late 2012 – early 2013 Mayimbe lost many members:
Bongocero \ Campanero Jose Luis Hernandes Rivas “el Agatur”, Drummer Alvaro Soto Guzman, Timbalero Jose Luis Sanchez, Bassist Luis Camilo Gomez Perez, Horn players Walther Mamani, Christian Zapata Julca, Luis Cuenca Izarnotegui, and Edwin Sanchez Reyes.
If this was not enough, Mayimbe had to replace most of their vocalists, which can clearly be heard on their present release, “Los Mensajeros De Dios”, their 2nd album.

IMO, their new release is a huge disappointment, and you can really feel the unfavorable changes in personnel, players and singers alike (I definitely miss Rafa, Marcelo, Miguel and Alain…) .
Out of 10 tracks on the album, only 4 are worth mentioning;
1 – Como Duele, a very nice Son flavoured composition
2 – El Uno Ahora, a very nice mid tempo song about baseball (which is one of the most popular sports in Cuba)
3 – La bendicion, a fast paced hit about the Orishas
and finally, the song I present you tonight,
4 – El Amigo, or how I like calling it, “8 minutes and 16 seconds of fun!”

The song is a masterpiece, made in the original spirit of Mayimbe.
It is a true test of vitality and stamina for a dancer, lasting a whole whooping 8 minutes and 16 seconds, with absolutely a 100% of them done correctly.
Unlike other songs from the album (such as “la chica chocolate”) which are shorter, but still long, and just drag on in a boring, monotonic waste of your time, this one has a wonderful course of development throughout the whole composition, has plenty of interesting elements and surprises, and lots of energies, while not being too exhausting.

Unlike these 4 songs, the rest is just disappointing, whether being to plain, boring and monotonic, or loosing the Clave based groove and structure, replacing the Afro Cuban rhythmical elements with commercialized western ones, coming from rock, funk, balads and pop, completely severing the connection with the Latin heritage of Salsa…

The higher they are, the harder they fall;
White their 1st album was full of hits, with most compositions well made, interesting and fresh, with a very good band lineup, the current album is a mere shadow of its’ former glory, consisting mostly of mediocre, and simply weird (maybe failed experiments?) compositions, with a few gems spread in between them.

Anyway, this is one of those gems mentioned in the last paragraph, so go and check it out 🙂


3 thoughts on “15.11.13 : Mayimbe – El Amigo

  1. antonio

    Hi, I love mayimbe, it’s my favorite timba band . My favorite tracks on this album are El uno ahora, no me lastimes and changany. I’d be curious of reading what you think of changany which IMHO has a very nice and surprising upsidedown structure. I’d be happy to chat , you ve got my email 🙂

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