Ghandaia

Texas Platters

Phases and Stages

Ghandaia

Uno (Xochipilli) An elephant stands alone on the cover of Ghandaia's first album, Uno. It's a visually poetic description of the album: immense, stately, capable of great ferociousness and sublime serenity. That's saying something for a ninepiece local Latin ensemble armed with horns, percussion, guitars, bass, bells, and more. Yet, Uno never overpowers. Instead, it seduces like a seasoned lover. Starting with Alex Marrero's muscular vocals on "Lo Eterno," the album makes a hearty Afro-Cuban start with lyrics that entice listeners to "let themselves go." Smooth Latin rock in "En el Alma" turns up the heated rhythms without breaking a sweat, while the title track excites with a contagious pop beat, bends into reggae, then hops into a can't-stop ska. "In & Out of the Way" is an aggressive Afro-jazz number that segues effortlessly to a sweet salsa, "Marieta." Other choice cuts include the liquid samba-bossa "A Côr do Som" and the Brazilian jam-rock "Dharma ... Nos Eixos." Three old friends are the heart of Ghandaia; Alex Marrero (vocals, guitar, percussion), Frederico Geib (vocals, percussion, guitar), and Pablo Larios (bass) bring out the best in each other and surround themselves with a masterful horn section and jump-to-your-feet percussionists. A lyric from "Lo Eterno," sums up Ghandaia's premiere disc best: "Silence is beautiful, but music is divine." (Ghandaia celebrates the release of Uno Saturday, May 10, at the Vibe.)

****

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