Personnel: Patricio Bonilla, Apolinar Peralta, Carlos Torres, Jose Fléte (trombone); Janina Rosado (piano); Ruben Toribio, Jeremías King, Abednego DeLos Santos (electric bass); Vinnie Colaiuta (drums); Johnny Chocolate (congas, bongos, guiro, maracas, tambora, timbales).
Audio Mixer: Ronnie Torres.
Recording information: JLG Studio, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; Ocean Way Studios, CA; Studio City Sound, CA.
After years of fusing Latin styles (merengue, bachata, bolero) with Afro-pop, pop, and jazz flavors, Dominican singer/songwriter Juan Luis Guerra makes it sound effortless on A Son de Guerra, a true "world music" album that borrows from all over the globe with proper respect and grace. Lead single "Bachata en Fukuoka" embodies the album's attitude in a nutshell as the delicate number absorbs the essence of a far-off land -- in this case, the Japanese city Fukuoka -- for self-enrichment's sake, which in turn helps the greater global good. No surprise, then, that likeminded Colombian rock & roller Juanes fits in perfectly on the reggae-meets-cumbia number "La Calle." So does American jazz trumpeter Chris Botti, who appears on "Lola's Mambo," a lighthearted "how about a dance with me?" song dedicated to Guerra's dog Lola. Much deeper but just as effective moments come when Guerra gets poignant by counting his blessings on "Mi Bendicion" or using funk to represent the urban struggle on "La Guagua." Bringing it all to a close is a rare number in English, the Cat Stevens-like "Caribbean Blues" where the "Blues" aren't the B.B. King kind, but the blues you might find on your lover's dress, or in the ocean, which always reminds you of her anyway. The track is true romance, joining the true heart and true soul that fill the rest of this rewarding effort. ~ David Jeffries