December 26, 1996 - January 2, 1997
[Off the Record]
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**** Freestyle Candela


(Totusek Music)

This is guitarist and composer Leif Totusek's neo-soukous (African rhumba) band, and Boston world-music fans might recall when they were a local outfit named "Freestyle." Totusek has relocated to Seattle in recent years and surrounded himself with some very hot players who aren't timid about transforming African music into forms Americans can comprehend. The driving twin-electric-guitar sound identified with African-produced soukous is here transformed into a single-guitar style strongly counterpointed by sax and bass. Whereas a great deal of soukous produced in Paris uses manic drum machines (Kanda Bongo Man's discs exemplify this approach), Freestyle Candela foreground very human percussionists. The largely instrumental program consists entirely of Totusek originals, and his years of apprenticing with many of Africa's finest musicians show. He's a highly expressive guitarist, comfortable with complex African dance rhythms even as he uses them in the service of a highly personal American style. A shining example of cross-cultural fusion. (Write to Totusek Music, 4216 Sunnyside Avenue North, Seattle, Washington 98103.)

-- Norman Weinstein

(Freestyle Candela play the Old Cambridge Baptist Church, at 1151 Mass Ave, this Friday, December 27. Call 776-9551.)

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