Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Alejandro Almenares, Casa De Trova, Cuba 50's

Cuban music has been such an important force in the development of the modern Latin style of dance music today. We sometimes forget that this music has roots that go way back.

Today's two-CD set by Cuban tres guitar player Alejandro Almenares, Casa De Trova, Cuba 50's (Tumi 228), helps us get acclimated with some beautiful son ensemble classics, played with real zest and style.

Alejandro, now 76 years old, was born into the music. His father Angel was the founder of La Casa De Trova, a well-known Cuban music nightspot, and one of Cuba's most celebrated troubadors. Alejandro took up the tres guitar at an early age and inherited the music and culture of his father, adding to it and keeping it all vivid and very alive.

He still plays at the Casa De Trova and no doubt puts on a wonderful show. The album at hand puts him in the context of his band, with rhythm guitar, percussion, of course the tres, backup vocals and lead vocals.

The first disk goes through the 13 songs as instrumentals with response-style backup vocals only, so you can really hear Alejandro's tres style, in a way a synthesis of what full ensembles would do with piano and horns and still do today. The second disk takes those same songs and adds the lead vocals.

There's no feeling of redundancy because the music appeals either as instrumentals or as vocals and so you just let the music take you where it does. Alejandro is a revelation and a wonder to hear. Everybody gets that spirit and goes with it.

I am thrilled to hear the music and very happy I have a copy of it all to return to. Very much recommended.

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