Personnel: Jorge Laboy (acoustic guitar); Richard "Jay" López (violin); Samuel Vélez (baritone saxophone); Jose Ruiz, Jan Duclerc, Angel Machado, Jesús Alonso (trumpet); Eliud Cintron, Jorge Díaz Ortiz, Antonio "Toñito" Vázquez (trombone); Harry Aponte (piano, keyboards); Carlitos García, Efrain "Junito" Davila (piano); Samuel García (congas); Carmelo Alvarez (bongos); Israel Vélez-Panderos (guiro); Raúl Rosario, Juan L. Picorelli (timbales).
Recording information: Rolo Studio.
Victor Manuelle pre-released three singles from Que Suenen los Tambores. Fans reacted well to their rhythmic and stylistic diversity. The title track was his 24th trip to the top spot on the Tropical Songs Airplay chart. Its charging trombones, fierce montunos, and frenetic congas and claves helped to deliver one of the very best salsa tunes in his career. The second single, "Agua Bendita," is the album opener. It commences with a lithe vallenato accordion recalling the singer's collaborations with Jorge Celedon. It quickly shifts into one of Manuelle's familiar salsa romanticos yet transforms further still after the chorus enters. His soneros experiment with different phrasing as myriad Latin rhythms slip in and out of the track's salsa frame. The string-laden ballad "Algo le Pasa a Mi Héroe" was the third single. Melancholic and lovely, it reveals the very personal toll Alzheimer's disease takes on the sufferer and his or her family (in this case, Manuelle's father). These three cuts offer a way in to Que Suenen los Tambores. "La Vida Perfecta" weds breezy bachata to salsa moderna, with ingenious horn charts and a vocal chorus line that weds pop and jazz. "Sal a Bailar" is a smoking party anthem that will drive everyone to the dancefloor, while "Isabela," a classic salsa (with soaring trombones), is a loving and celebratory tribute to the Puerto Rican town where Manuelle was raised. When taken together, all 13 tracks (there are two different versions of the title tune) on Que Suenen los Tambores offer an ambitious, dizzying statement that combines everything the singer does best with wide-ranging ambition as he experiments with many rhythmic styles. It is one of the sharpest and most focused records of his career. ~ Thom Jurek