Charanga Cakewalk is the new project from journeyman session musician Michael Ramos, who has previously been a member of The Bodeans and has worked with Patty Griffin, Paul Simon, John Mellencamp, and Ani DiFranco. The debut of what is essentially a solo album, Loteria de la Cumbia Lounge, is a wonderful musical concoction that alternates between low-key danceable energy and smooth mellow cool.
"Cumbia" is an enormously popular music from Columbia, one form of which is heavily dominated by the accordion. Ramos blends this cumbia sound with dance grooves and creates an exciting musical buffet. From the intriguing Latin pop of "El Indio" and "Mexicanos" to the mid-tempo instrumentals which recall Sergio Mendez or Esquivel ("Romanticos Desperados," "Volcanico"). Ramos performs the enjoyable music entirely on four of the album's thirteen songs, and he plays the rest with help from just a handful of guest musicians.
The results are on the whole very sonically exciting, and represent a very promising debut from a terrific musician.