Home Read Classic Album Review: Ry Cooder & Manuel Galban | Mambo Sinuendo

Classic Album Review: Ry Cooder & Manuel Galban | Mambo Sinuendo

The MVP guitarist and a Buena Vista keyboard alum take you on a cool musical trip.

This came out in 2003 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


The more you travel, the further you have to go to find someplace you haven’t already been. After 40 years in music — and gigs with everyone from Captain Beefheart to Buena Vista Social Club — you can see why guitar legend Ry Cooder doesn’t get around too much anymore. But it’s nice to know that when he does step out, it’s worth tagging along.

That’s the case with Mambo Sinuendo, his first non-soundtrack release in a decade. A collaboration with guitarist and keyboardist Manuel Galban — a Buena Vista alum — this 50-minute set finds Cooder travelling both in space and time. Setting the way-back machine for Havana circa 1957, the two players revisit the day when twangy guitars and mambo rhythms shared space with pop melodies and jazz arrangements. Backed by two drummers, a percussion and a bassist who lay down low-key hip-swivelling grooves, they interweave their complementary styles — Cooder’s sharp, icy picking and Galban’s lazy, warm tones — on a dozen casually inviting instrumentals that are simultaneously retro and ahead of their time. In short, it’s a trip.

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