Review Michi Sarmiento y su Combo Bravo – Aqui Los Bravos!


Miles Cleret’s Soundway Records continue their winning streak with this 16-track compilation of barnstorming dancefloor rhythms from little-known Colombian bandleader Michi Sarmiento.

Coming hot on the heels of last month’s Cartagena!, the label turns once again to Robert Gyemant for a helping hand in sorting through the mountain of music that Sarmiento and his band recorded for the legendary Discos Fuentes label. Together they’ve done an exceptional job, and while stylistically the album wanders from rumbling cumbias to upbeat salsas and descarga tracks, quality-wise it’s straight-up superb.

It can’t have hurt that sax-player Sarmiento was the son of Discos Fuentes’ in-house arranger, but he was also something of a child prodigy too, and his band was a fixture in the clubs and casinos of Cartagena while Michi was still in his teens. It’s not hard to tell why crowds took to their style, either. Every track on Aqui los Bravos! appears to have been recorded with the heat turned up to 11.

It’s tough to pick standouts here, but both the fearsome title track and the boogaloo-borrowing “Son Retoson” are impossible to forget. What’s most impressive here though – and perhaps the biggest risk for the label – is how raw and undiluted Sarmiento and his band sound.

Soundway, like fellow-travellers Analog Africa and Now Again Records, have tended to focus on artists and scenes which adopted and adapted European and American music styles to create exciting hybrids. Naturally, the more traditional and organic feel of bands like Sarmiento’s Combo are less obviously accessible to European ears. But if it’s a gamble, it’s one that ought to pay off with interest; Aqui los Bravos! is irresistible.

1. El Sonerito
2. Aqui Los Bravos
3. Cumbia Raja
4. Vamos Negra
5. El Arruyo De Macuya
6. A Los Sicodelicos
7. Mirame San Miguel
8. La Vaca Nueva
9. Tumbando
10. Hong Kong
11. El Negro Y Ray
12. Se Fue La Cumbia
13. Suena Ahora
14. Caprichosa
15. Son Retoson
16. Purification

Artist: Michi Sarmiento y Su Combo Barbaro
Album: Aqui Los Bravos! The Best Of 1967-77
Label: Soundway Records
Release Date: 25th April 2011

You can buy this album from Amazon.

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