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Baila

Shall We Dance?

(Zukor; US: 11 Apr 2000)

Produced by Terry Wollman and Samuel Turcotte this collection features an extensive cast of seasoned musicians. Guitarist Terry Wollman has himself worked with the likes of Little Richard and The Crusaders, whilst the remaining players—Ellis Hall (backing vocals), Marc Hugenberger (keyboards), Vail Johnson (bass), Amy Keys (lead vocals), and Johnathan Moffett (drums)—have worked with artists ranging from Madonna to George Michael and Gil Scott-Heron.


In many ways the vast array of musical influences and experiences that constitute Baila are very much apparent in their work: virtually every song explores a different musical genre. However, there is one common thread to this album. Literally translated Baila is Spanish for “to dance.” Also worked into the title, the very notion of dancing is one that is very much at the heart of this release. Indeed, within their promotional literature this multi-membered collective’s goal is stated as follows:


“To make music that infuses people with energy, excitement and the desire to get up and dance.”


Significantly, there are numerous occasions upon which they achieve their goal. Tracks such as the carnivalesque “Baila,” the hip-grinding disco of “Rush,” and the seriously funky “Determination” are all highly infectious. Elsewhere, the live instrumentation of the smooth Incognito-sounding R&B of “A Little More Love” is also highly appealing. However, when you factor in the techno dance of “Fascination” the rocky “No Pain, No Gain,” and the visceral “Trust,” you begin to get the feeling that Baila’s laudable intentions are in danger of being lost amongst the veritable mélange of musical styles.


By choosing to utilise influences which span “old school” disco and funk, as well as more modern genres such as techno, dance and alternative rock Baila have created an ambitious album which defies categorisation. However, the result of such intentions is a release which can at times feel disjointed and lacking in cohesion. In more serious terms one must question which market this album will be aimed at and wonder whether it will manage to avoid slipping through the cracks. The seemingly instinctive human need to define, categorise and label may result in their downfall. Nevertheless, regardless of its mixed content, this is an album that features strong production and musicianship throughout. With its varied content I would have to say that this is a collection is aimed squarely at those with the most eclectic of tastes.

Tagged as: shall we dance
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