The music is blisteringly good, the filmography marks it out as mid 70s concert footage straight away but apart from Celia herself the real stars of the show are the audience.
Anyone who has seen the documentary ‘When We Were Kings’ about Mohammad Ali’s Rumble in the Jungle with Mighty George Foreman will be instantly familiar with the funky clothes that were all the rage in Kinshasa, Zaire, the style of shooting and the amazing atmosphere that permeated this unique festival of Afrocentric achievement.
The link to the fight is all the more explicit as both events were promoted by Don King and both this DVD and ‘When We Were Kings’ were shot by Leon Gast. It’s 1974 and through all the bloodshed of the civil rights movement and the movement for independence in Africa a new confidence in all things stemming from the African diaspora has emerged. Clubs across Africa are funking out to James Brown, Bob Marley and Latin music. American musicians are keen to tour Africa and only too quick to absorb new stuff on their travels. Musical interchanges that used to take decades to evolve are happening in weeks.
And when Celia arrives in Kinsasa she does so to an audience who not only know her music but have been mixing it into their own for some time. Celia only sings on the first two of the eight tracks here but it is magic to see the audience singing her songs back to her.
The other six tracks feature various other latin legends from the Fania stable including Johnny Pacheco, Ray Barretto, Santos Colon and Bobby Valentin to name a few. It would be a lot fairer to name the DVD “Fania Allstars, feat. Celia” given the fact that she is only on a quarter of the tracks and the Allstars are on all of them but what the hell. This is a great record of the time with a stellar line up at the very top of their game producing music of legendary quality.
So if anyone ever does invent a time machine, set the dial to 1974 and get ready for stultifying heat, the best music festival to ever happen and a fight that no one who saw it would ever forget.
Kymbala (Celia Cruz)
Guantanemera (Celia Cruz)
Catalogue No: DVDSV3013D
Release date: 21 April 2003
Running Time: 54 minutes
Direct Video Distribution