Lionel Limonta and Haila Mompié split Bamboleo to form Azúcar Negra. Coming at the tail
end of a period in which the best Cuban acts were able to reinvent themselves for every CD or the formation of every new group, halving Bamboleo’s most active ingredients resulted in no dilution of talent. In short order they built a highly professional new band, including singer Alexander Lara, and created a new sound. Andar Andando was their first recording.
For me it’s one of the stand out Timba CDs of this century. The complexity of the songs’ arrangements and quality of the material, not least the ability of the band to cope with them are exceptional. The CD really comes to life with Se Acabó La Rabia and builds in intensity, only taking a dip for the schmaltzy duet Tan Solo Tu. It then gears up to end with three more scorchers. The finale is a reworking of No Me Parezco A Nadie which Haila first sang with Bamboleo. The sound is full and exuberant, most songs go at quite a lick. The horn section copes effortlessly with every twist, the percussion with efectos and gear changes that amount to an assault. Alexander Lara and Haila do well to navigate these turbulent waters, and they do so with enormous style.
Of note also, is the song Habana-Lima, the only one to deviate from Salsa/Timba. I’m not entirely sure what it is, perhaps a hybrid of Bomba and Merengue. It is, though, incredibly soulful and indicative of author Lionel Limonta and arranger Adalberto Dominquez’s skill and dedication to creating real music in this period. That they bothered to create something so worthwhile for just one song.