Taapa Groove is an 8-piece crew from City of Mexico. Its beginnings are dated to 2008, when they performed at a festival in Oaxaca and released an EP with 4 tracks documenting that event. Their 2010 debut longplay “Old Sessions” was musically dominated by ska-jazz with lots of latino influences. Yet the three years younger “Original Beat” is dripping with jazz experiments that might discourage listeners with ska expectacions. It’s quite possible that those differences in style are effected by lots of band’s line-up changes through the years. Despite that rotation, Taapa Groove remained active. They shared stages with stars like The Skatalites or New York Ska-Jazz Ensebmle on numerous festivals, even played as a backing band for Rico Rodriguez. Mentioned names suggest a strong ska-jazz direction. That was mostly confirmed by “Mil Ritmos” from 2015. So, how does it look on their latest record?
Taapa Groove – Punto Negro
They call their music ska-fusion rocksteady. I must honestly say that I’m a little confused by all that terminology. To me it’s pure and simple classic ska-jazz at its best! It sounds really magnificent and brings to mind old records by TSPO. It’s fast, but not necessarily jolly, sometimes with a little more nostalgic note. Dominant role is played by the brass section, which does an incredible job. Constant dialogue of trumpet, trombone and saxophones is regularly joined by flute and that is simply an icing on the cake, like in best tunes by NYSJE.
What I really like about this album is lack of vocals. Taapa Groove don’t play tricks to appease the listeners. They simply do what they’re best at. Of course, I love vocal tunes. Yet it’s not rare when great instrumental albums, especially those ska-jazz ones, are flawed with mediocre songs way below the level of the rest of the record. You won’t find any of that here and I am personally very greatful for it.
“Punto Negro” was recorded and mixed at Out of Control Records. You can buy a CD through band’s Facebook profile or on Mercado Libre website. It’s a pity there’s no vinyl edition, as the music is definitely worth it. As a consolation you should watch this cute video for a completely new song “Amarilla”, which had its premiere only April 7th. It’s a mix of burru and ska rythms made in collaboration with Martín Cerinosa and Gustavo Córdoba.