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Various Artists: Simply Cuba

Album Notes

Simply Cuba is a four-disc box set from England that provides a deeper look at recordings made by the artists now associated forever with Buena Vista Social Club, many cut before that project was a twinkle in producer Ry Cooder's eye. The tracks here by such Cuban now-legends as Ibrahim Ferrer, Omara Portuondo, Compay Segundo and Rubén González, as well as other Cubans who had nothing to do with BVSC (such as the great Beny Moré), date from the '50s into the '90s, and therefore the sound quality and styles vary wildly from track to track. But the music, taken from original Cuban Egrem label recordings, is consistently strong, divvied up for convenience into themes titled Cuba Romantica, Cuba Danceria, Los Soneros, and Las Señoras. Those categories are self-explanatory and give the recordings some consistency and flow, but there is enough crossover (Ferrer and Portuondo each appear on three of the discs, for example) to render the sectioning moot to some extent. ~ Jeff Tamarkin


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