Music of Cuba: 1909-1951 [Columbia]

Music of Cuba: 1909-1951 [Columbia]


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It seems reasonable to presume that without the unexpected success of the Buena Vista Social Club at the end of the 1990s, Columbia would not have been interested in digging through its vaults for vintage Cuban pop recordings. Whatever it takes to unlock a flood of ethnic music, however, should be welcomed. And you certainly get a wealth of it on this disc, which assembles 25 tracks from 1909-1951, although all but three are from 1926-1942. It's lighthearted, for the most part, danceable popular music (although Sexteto Nacional's "Siboney" has a nice melancholy aura), roaming among the various branches of the Cuban sound, including danzon, son, bolero, rumba, and conga. Considering the age of the recordings, the remastering is exceptional, although there's still a lot of noise on some of the cuts, probably unavoidably so. There's certainly a lot of variety, with men and women singers, cuts with barely any instrumental accompaniment, full orchestras, an unaccompanied choral song (save for a brief bit of bagpipe near the beginning), numbers with clear American pop and jazz influences, and more. There's even one name that will be known to most of the general public -- Desi Arnaz -- heard doing congas with his orchestra on two tracks, done in 1939 and 1940, respectively. Includes detailed liner notes by Dick Spottswood in both English and a Spanish translation.

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