ALBUM OF THE DAY
Bacao Rhythm and Steel Band, “Expansions”
By Eli Schoop July 26, 2021
Somewhere in Margaritaville the Jimmy Buffett was turned off and a DJ started smashing club hits like Jay-Z, Nas, Grace Jones, Slum Village and Sylvester. The local ecosystem, in response, has evolved to adapt to new sounds. Pop culture and steelpan, finally together. Thereby, Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band was born – not in Hamburg, Germany, as official documents say – but grew up deep under Trinidadian roots, manifested in the waters of the Gulf of Paria.
Successful cross-cultural pollination like that of Extensions must come from a love and knowledge of the music he embraces, coupled with a playful spirit and a knowing nod to his audience. Call it kitsch, call it corny, but when the grooves are this good, it’s just plain undeniable. Take Minnie Riperton’s cover of âThe Flowersâ ââfor example: her angelic voice is metamorphosed into a whimsical steelpan lead, but it doesn’t sound awkward at all. And with both “Raise It Up” and “The Healer”, Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band makes their admiration for J Dilla evident with an ear for melody and percussive flair. The original compositions complement the covers beautifully, leaving the listener to guess at times what was written by others and what came from the tropical spirits on this record. So, pull out the Hawaiian shirts, make yourself a mai tai and enjoy the exhilaration of steelpan funk, aided by iconic hits.