What do you get when a Nuyorican vocalist, surf rock guitarist and world music percussionist join forces to make a band?
You get the El Cantante Trio.
Born in Los Angeles, raised in New York and eventually naturalised in Johannesburg, Martin Rafael Otto, aka Cito, was brought up by his Puerto Rican mother and American father, both musicians and embracers of the Hispanic culture.
Cito has teamed up with Martin Schofield, fellow WONDERboom guitarist, playing lead guitar and South African percussionist, Riaan Van Rensburg to form this unique band who have just released their debut album, “Recuerdos Del Alma”.
"The manifestation of a life-long calling and dream, to record and produce a record that pays tribute to my musical heritage and Puertorican roots, is something that will make me so happy for a long time,” said Cito.
The rhythms and harmonies of bolero, rumba, salsa, mambo and folklorica are embraced, highlighting traditional favourites from countries including Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Argentina and others.
Pop favourites are also interpreted in the trio’s unique flair.
The album, which was recorded live captures the band’s interpretation of the songs perfectly as engineer and co-produced Barry Berk reveals: “The recording process was old school, live band in a studio laying down song after song.
“The result is a remarkable record filled with a warmth and an immediacy, a record that more than does justice to the classic Latin songs the album contains.”
Martin adds, “Playing and recording this beautiful roots music and paying tribute to these songs, in this style is nothing but an honour, privilege and pleasure ... and with these amigos by my side it’s even better."
“Our man Barry Berk managed to capture that performance for us. Working in studio with my fellow band members and Barry on this project was very special and it's something I will treasure for all my life.
“In the end, we finally have something out to be very proud of. I hope it sounds as much fun as it was making it,” said Riaan.