Hecho a Mano

Times Square Records TSQD 9027

Yalil Guerra, piano, bass, tres, guitar; Fernando Pina, drums, congas, bongos; Onel Mulet, sax, William Pollendo, trumpet; Francisco Gambeiro, trumpet; Albita, guitar, claves, guiros, maracas, chekere, chorus.

Unless you know what to expect you will be caught off balance with Albita. This Cuban-exiled diva has a voice rich, expressive, distinctive and unsettling; there are fires smoldering just below the surface and waiting to engulf you - Albita demands your attention. Don't expect straightforward Latin American style; her polyphonic music is steeped in the rhythmic spirituality of the Afro-Cuban tradition. Dropped by her original American label for not producing the goods with 'popular' music, she never departed from the foundation her parents taught her. Writing songs since she was seven, she has kindly included the words to all her tracks in the liner notes (in Spanish), sing along if you dare. Her backing group has a really busy rhythm section and good, tight trumpet playing in the Latin tradition. I particularly liked the last and longest track, "Andan" Diciendo Por Ahi, it has an engrossing and complicated rhythmic opening overlaid with lone trumpet and voice. In "Son Sin Concepto" she delivers a storyline that drips sensuality ­ to such an extent that those not understanding Spanish will feel no loss. This is dynamic music presented with passion and sophistication.

by Ferdinand Maylin

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