Laru Beya

Laru Beya

Singer, guitarist, and percussionist Aurelio Martinez — a.k.a. Aurelio — is a member of the Garifuna people of Central America, an ethnic group who are descended from Caribbean Indians and West Africans. Garifuna communities dot the eastern coast of Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, and Garifuna music draws from traditional forms, Latin elements, reggae, and other styles. 2011’s Laru Beya includes a number of guest artists from Africa. Influences have traveled back and forth between Africa and the Americas for centuries, and this album presents another example of that rich cultural exchange. The opener, “Lubara Wanwa,” features Senegalese superstar Youssou N’Dour lending English-language vocals to a reggae groove decked out with nice guitar layering. The title track, which has a ska-like perkiness, spotlights Orchestra Baobab vocalists Rudy Gomes and Balla Sidibé. The high-energy “Yurumei” is a slice of punta that finds Martinez singing of the history of his people, while on “Ineweyu,” which moves to a paranda rhythm, Senegalese singer Njaaya brings added flavor to the mix.

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