Cuba has been in the news quite a bit lately. It hasn’t been for the best reasons, either. Luckily though, where certain events have caused quite the division among Americans and natives of the island nation, Putumayo World Music has bridged that gap with a new collection of Cuban music in the recently released compilation record Cuba! Cuba! The 10-song record is a collection that will unite everyone regardless of political persuasions and ethnic backgrounds. That is due in part to the songs featured in this latest collection of Cuban compositions. It will be discussed shortly. The artists and acts featured throughout the record are collectively just as important to discuss in examining the record’s whole as its songs. This will be discussed later. The record’s companion booklet rounds out its most important elements. Each element is important in its own right to the album’s whole. All things considered, they make this record one of the year’s top new World Music offerings as well as one of the year’s top new Jazz and Blues records.
Putumayo World Music’s latest Cuban music compilation Cuba! Cuba! is one of this year’s top new World Music albums and new Jazz & Blues offerings. That is due in part to the 10 songs that make up the record’s body. From start to finish, the songs vary in regards to the eras in which they were released and in terms of their styles. From Samba to Rumba to Bossa Nova and beyond, so many sub-genres of Cuban music are represented throughout the course of the album. This shows that those behind the record’s sequencing clearly put a lot of time and thought into assembling and sequencing the songs.
That time and deliberate thought is exhibited just as much in the variety of eras represented here. The balance of new and classic Cuban works is expertly balanced with five classics and five originals featured here. Even more interesting to note is the fact that some of those classics are presented in a new setting through younger acts who specialize in Cuban music. Case in point Asere’s take on Cuban composer Luis Marquetti’s song ‘Oriente,’ which was included in his 1980 album Fe, Esperanza y Caridad and Septeto Nacional Ignacio Pineiro’s cover of singer-songwriter Marcelino “Rapindey” Guerra’s ‘Me Dieron la Clave.’ On the more modern side, listeners get Sonlokos’ original tune ‘Rumba Con Sabor a Melao’ and Palo!’s original composition ‘Al Monte.’ This is just a glimpse into the division of new and classic tunes that complete this record. Audiences will hear for themselves the full division when they pick up the album for themselves.
Staying on the matter of the album’s featured songs and their performers, the performers featured in this record are just as important to discuss as the songs and their variety. That is because the list of featured performers is just as varied as the songs. Those behind the record’s creation put just as much thought into choosing the record’s featured performers as the songs. Legendary Cuban singer Roberto Torres is featured as part of the collection alongside fledgling Miami-based outfit Sonlokos while fellow up-and-coming Miami-based Palo! is set alongside veteran Cuban-American musician Jose Conde to round out the record. Earlier in the record’s run, Al Valdes is partnered alongside veteran La Familia Valera Miranda for a solid 1-2 classic Cuban pairing – one more example of the diversity in the record’s performer lineup. Keeping this in mind, the diversity in the songs and performers featured in this record becomes clear along with the importance of said diversity. Even with this in mind, that extensive diversity is only a portion of what makes this record so enjoyable. The companion booklet that comes with the record rounds out its most important elements.
The musical diversity and that of the acts chosen for the record are both critical to its overall presentation. They are not its only key elements, though. The record’s companion booklet is just as important to its whole as the songs and their featured performers. That is because the booklet provides a brief but concise history on each performer and its associated song. For instance, audiences learn in reading the booklet that while Roberto Torres started his career as a performer, he is now a successful label owner. Audiences also learn through the booklet’s notes that La Familia Valera Miranda’s musical roots reach back generations, going all the way back to Santiago de Cuba, “the largest city in the eastern part of the island.” As if that is not enough, another Santiago de Cuba resident, Armando Garzon gets his own highlight here. Audiences learn of his history that he was born in the city in 1948 and lived most of his life exposed solely to the region’s music thanks to his grandmother and great-aunt. These are just some examples of the depth of information provided in the album’s booklet. Again, even more information is provided both on the featured acts and songs throughout the booklet. The whole of that collective information makes for an educational experience that is just as enjoyable as the experience provided via the album’s songs. Keeping all of this in mind, the songs that make up the album, their performers and the record’s booklet join to make the album in whole a collection that will take listeners to Cuba without the need for expensive passports, tickets, vaccinations or anything else. Considering this, they make the record in whole, one of this year’s top new World Music records and one of the year’s top new Jazz & Blues offerings.
Putumayo World Music’s new Cuban music compilation Cuba! Cuba! is a hit twice over. It is one of the year’s top new World Music offerings and one of the year’s top new Jazz & Blues albums. As has already been noted, that is due to the partnering of 10 songs and acts that span the rich, expansive history of Cuba’s musical history. The companion booklet that comes with the record, which is nothing new to Putumayo World Music’s offerings, puts the finishing touch on the album’s overall presentation. All things considered, the album proves wholly that it deserves a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new World Music albums list as well as the year’s top new Jazz & Blues albums. It is available now in stores and online. More information on this and other titles from Putumayo World Music is available online now along with all of the company’s latest news and more at:
To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.