Smokey Hormel – Smokey’s Secret Family

January 01, 1970

(Afro Sambas)


Smokey Hormel has been the guitarist of choice for some of
the most imaginative and genre-defying artists of the last couple decades. His
wide-ranging resume includes sojourns with Beck, Tom Waits, a slew of Rick
Rubin and Hal Wilner projects, and stints with the Blasters, Cibo Matto and
Forro in the Dark; most recently, he’s been playing with Norah Jones. He’s a
chameleon and historian – delving into blues, western swing, and, with Cibo’s
Miho Hatari, bossa nova (as Smokey & Miho). Now comes Smokey’s Secret Family on which Hormel and friends look back to
African music of the late ‘50s and early ‘60s.


Hormel doesn’t seem like he’s trying to compete with the
recent slew of great reissues of African music, nor is he pulling a Graceland and remaking the style in his
own image; instead, he sounds like he’s having a blast playing music he loves.
The obvious analogue is Marc Ribot (another Waits alum) and his excellent
forays into Cuban music (and there’s an Afro-Cuban sound here, too). Hormel,
horn players Dough Weiselman and Clark Gayton, and vibraphonist Mauro Refosco
and percussionist Gilmar Gomes cover songs by Franco, Luiz Gonzaga and Dr. Nico
and others, along with a pair of simpatico Hormel originals. The mood ranges
from the ebullient opener “Cheri Akimi Ngai” to the meditative closer “Likambo
Ya Ngana.”


Throughout, Hormel shines without showing off, although he
does go off on a rewardingly wild tangent at the end of “Acuana.” In the title
of one of his brief compositions, Smokey’s
Secret Family
is a “Fiesta Folkloric.”


Standout Tracks: “Likambo Ya Ngana,” “Acuana” STEVE KLINGE










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