As a youth in Havana, singer/composer/multi-instrumentalist Angel d’Cuba (born Angel Luis Badell) was already exploring music from the rest of the world at the same time that he was absorbing and sharing his own rich heritage. His time as lead singer with the supergroup Mezcla, which performed a broad spectrum of world music, soul, rock and jazz in addition to the more “traditional” Cuban styles, was the experience that probably had the strongest influence on his future approach to music.
Coming to Chicago (an unusual choice at the time for a Cuban performer, but Angel tells me that it was all about love) meant leaving an established, reasonably secure career to pay a new set of dues all over again, but he persisted while developing a following and attracting some of the city’s finest talent to his ensemble. Still, in spite of having a star’s voice, outstanding original compositions and an elite band, he remained relatively unknown in much of the United States outside of Chicago.
That is, until now. Heritage, which features Angel’s own compositions and arrangements in an expanded ensemble setting, finally gives him a long-overdue proper introduction to the world at large, showcasing his wide musical range, while still honoring his roots. This project has a Cuban heart, as you’ll hear in Muchacha de Escuela (a tasty Songo), and Can’t Hide Love (a Funk-Mozambique fusion guaranteed to make you move), and it also features a much wider range of genres including Vallenato-style Cumbia, Samba, Calypso, even some Reggaeton, which is all done con alma y sabor.
World, meet Angel d’Cuba, and enjoy.