Charlie Halloran and The Tropicales Course Through ’50s Era Trinidad & French Caribbean Sounds On ‘Shake The Rum’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

From the opening upbeat notes on the jubilant song “The Rhythm We Want”, Charlie Halloran and The Tropicales prove that they have the goods to deliver a rollicking time via their New Orleans-based sound, directly influenced by 1950’s era Trinidad and the French Caribbean offerings.  

Shake The Rum, released on Hi-Tide Recordings, presents eleven tracks that effervescently course through the ears and make it hard to sit still while the horns blow, low-end rumbles, and guitars strum. The Tropicales, led by Halloran on trombone, are Tomas Majcherski on sax, John Maestas and Joshua Starkman on guitar, Pete Olynciw on bass, Doug Garrison on drums, and Cesar Bacaro providing percussion.  

As mentioned the opening number is a highlight with awesome brass interplay as the whole troop gets revved up, setting a vibrant tone. The guitars and sensual percussion take center stage for the late-night get-down jam of “Doudou Pas Pleure” complete with snaking brass work while rolling drums continue to be the focus on the bottom bumping “Tabu”. 

The cool, laid-back grooving of “Vicki” and the sweet sashaying of “Juliane” are fine outings but things get ramped up when guest vocalists join the party. St. Louis Slim nails “Barbados” but both John Boutte (on the pumping “Dorothy”) and Squirrel Nut Zipper frontman Jimbo Mathus (on both the fun-loving “Fifty Cents” and the upbeat “Mango Vert”) steal the headlines with knock-out vocal performances.  

The calypso and biguine fire flows throughout the album as the band closes strong with the swirling horn sounds around standout guitar work during “Voltige Antillais” before Halloran steps to the forefront with dynamite trombone on the album-closing “The River’”, musically tying together his love of New Orleans and the Caribbean. 

Shake The Rum is a joyous musical concoction that overflows with strong musicianship, dance-inducing tunes, and a feeling of happiness much needed during trying times. 

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