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CD REVIEW: Aurelio's Laru Beya

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THE DEAL: From the opening strain of song No. 1, "Lubara Wanwa", you know this is gonna be good. It grabs you immediately and lasts throughout. This is Garifuna music from the coast of Honduras in Central America. Don't be turned off by the language or culture because the music, the emotion and the soul are international. Touching, emotional, evocative, it's got a great lilting, tropical-beat percussion everywhere.

THE GOOD: Hard to know where to start as there are so many superlatives. There's the tunes, the vocals, the selections, the song order, the arrangements, vocals, harmonies, backup singers, African guest vocals, the horns, massive percussion and finally the crystal clear, clever production.

THE BAD: Sure, it's sung in the impenetrable Garifuna language, but that's part of its charm. The liner notes explain most everything and music almost always sounds better in its native tongue. By the way, Garifuna are the people and accompanying language of the people that live on Central America's Mosquito Coast — from Belize to Honduras and Nicaragua.

THE VERDICT: All songs are keepers, unusual in this day and age when so many recordings only have a few and sometimes none. Clearly a labor of love, the song unites singer, song interpreter Aurelio with a Belize's great producer, Ivan Duran, creating a minor masterpiece. And the rhythms — you get your congas, maracas, shakers, tama drums, Garifuna drums, saber drum, turtle shells, calabash, bongos, conch shells and of course the jawbone of an ass, mon. Extra texture on every cut.

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