Lamento Borinacano (Puerto Rican Lament)
Puerto Rico had been a colony of the United States for about twenty years when the first piece on this album was recorded. That relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States is present in many of the songs. All but two tracks were recorded in New York City and many of the lyrics deal with the island's beauty, economic problems, unequal relations with Uncle Sam, as well as the life of immigrants to the mainland (whose status hovered between citizen nor alien).
This two CD set of 50 cuts illustrates the wide range of European, African and Caribbean fusion that Puerto Ricans have employed to tell their stories. These were both homegrown and imported from Cuba, French Caribbean, Dominican Republic, Trinidad, and Colombia, but little from the United States. (with the exception of one funky fox trot, that features fabulous guiro work, recorded in Puerto Rico).
There are appealing mixes of art and folk vocal and instrumental styles. The melodies are delivered with emotional, full voiced singing, often with stirring lyrics declaring love and loss for Borinquen, their homeland.
The genteel and swinging instrumentals feature various sized guitars and guitar-like instruments like tres and cuatro. Echoes of light classical-derived parlor music of the Nineteenth Century can be heard, however, vocals rightly predominate.
Rescued from relative obscurity are such once great names as Manuel Jimenez "Canario" Otero (in several guises), Trio Borinquen (likewise), Los Reyes de la Plena and the great composer Rafael Hernandez.
Excellent notes with some translated lyrics are essential to the enjoyment of the selections. This is a wonderful album featuring the kind of music that, with luck, can occasionally still be heard in U.S. cities with Puerto Rican populations around Christmas and New Year's. Anyone who digs the recent Cuban revival will enjoy this. - Stacy Phillips
Canario y su grupo: "Heroes de Boriquen"
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