Jerry Goldsmith has always scored well with ethnic settings and a chance to play to the grand vista's of the African wilderness was an opportunity not to be missed. Congo, the movie, was an attempt to cash in on Crichton mania after the massive success of Jurassic Park. But Congo, the book was not a major success and a movie version had been talked about before back in the early eighties under the direction of Crichton himself and with Goldsmith scoring. This was aborted and some would say Congo still hadn't improved enough to warrant a major summer movie event in 1995. Congo wasn't that well received by critics but it didn't stop it from going on to make some good international box office though. Goldsmith begins with a celebratory opening for the plains of Africa introducing an enthusiastic African vocal from group Lebo M. Goldsmith has always done well with instrumental support to vocal arrangements and this is no exception.
Chucho Valdes continues to amaze with his profoundly Cuban take on jazz. This latest finds him exploring the African component of Cuban religion with a jazz quartet. The results are stunning. BRIYUMBA PALO CONGO was nominated for the 2000 Grammy Award for Best Latin Jazz Performance.
Sabu Martinez's debut as a leader mostly features percussionists (other than bassist Evaristo Baro), including the leader, Arsenio Rodriguez (who doubles on the tres), Cesar Travieso, Quique Travieso, and Ray "Mosquito" Romero. Martinez, Rodriguez, and Travieso also join Willie Capo and Sarah Baro in singing and chanting. Six of the eight songs are Martinez's originals, although the most memorable cut is the opening "El Cumbanchero," which has a catchy melody and a Martinez vocal that in tone sounds surprisingly like Cab Calloway in spots. Intriguing African-oriented music. ~ AllMusic