As a youth in Havana, singer/composer/multi-instrumentalist Angel d’Cuba
(born Angel Luis Badell) was already exploring music from the rest of the
world at the same time that he was absorbing and sharing his own rich heritage.
He even got into breakdancing as a teenager. His early career on the island included
work with several bands including the group formerly led by the late,
great Emiliano Salvador, but by his own account, his time as lead
singer with the supergroup Mezcla, which performed a broad spectrum
of world music, soul, rock and jazz in addition to the more
“traditional” Cuban styles, was the experience that probably had the
strongest influence on his future approach to music.

Coming to Chicago (an unusual choice at the time for a Cuban performer, but
Angel tells me that it was all about love) meant leaving an established,
reasonably secure career to pay a new set of dues all over again, but he
persisted while developing a following and attracting some of the city’s finest
talent to his ensemble. Still, in spite of having a star’s voice, outstanding
original compositions and an elite band, he remained relatively unknown in
much of the United States outside of Chicago.

That is, until now. Heritage, which features Angel’s own compositions
and arrangements in an expanded ensemble setting, finally gives him
a long-overdue proper introduction to the world at large, showcasing
his wide musical range, while still honoring his roots. This project has
a Cuban heart, as you’ll hear in Muchacha de Escuela (a tasty Songo),
and Can’t Hide Love (a Funk-Mozambique fusion guaranteed to make
you move), and it also features a much wider range of genres
including Vallenato-style Cumbia, Samba, Calypso, even some
Reggaeton, which is all done con alma y sabor.
World, meet Angel d’Cuba, and enjoy.

--Bill Tilford,