Saturday, February 2, 2008

In Review---Puerto Plata's Mujer de Cabaret

Photo: Puerto Plata (Iaso Records)

Puerto Plata
Mujer de Cabaret

Iaso Records

I am mostly familiar with Cuban musical traditions, but the nearby island of Dominican Republic, (shares an island with Haiti), offers a similar fare of sones, boleros and merenues. Puerto Plata sings these traditions over luscious rhythms and the guitar work of Edilio Paredes and Frank Mendez, who both have these styles down pat.

Mujer de Cabaret (cabaret women), features 11 delectable songs, fleshed out with hard-driving guitar, Caribbean percussion, and 84-year old Puerto Plata serenading us (both women and men), with his "sweet nostalgic" vocals and guitar. And boy, is there a lot of guitar on this CD!

Fans of the Buena Vista Social Club sound (mostly Cuban sones and troves), will enjoy this warm and sunny offering from a octogenarian musician, who has lived an eventful life judging from the press notes. Not only that he has kept his sense of humor intact over the years, having survived the dictatorship of Trujillo (have you ever read Dominican Republic author Julia Alvarez's novels?), and survived dangerous neighborhoods.

But who is going to be thinking of any of those topics when listening to songs, such as La Cotorrita de Rosa with Edilio Parades' guitar racing through every note, or Te la dejo toda with its sensual vocals. The combination of Puerto Plata's romantic vocals and Frank Mendez's digital dexterity (guitar playing) on Santiago recalls BVSC's Ibrahim Ferrer's love ballads. And it proves helpful to read the liner notes for each song as you work your way through this lively recording. That is if it doesn't work its way through you first!

If you are looking for something to chase the winter blues away (northern hemisphere), or to enjoy a hot summer day (southern hemisphere), look no further than Puerto Plata's Mujer de Cabaret. If this recording cannot lift your spirits out of the doldrums, nothing can. Aye Yi Yi!


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