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María Ochoa y Corazón de Son
Así Quiero Vivir
Blue Jackel (

cd cover María Ochoa emerged as a popular singer of Cuban folkloric music in the late 1960s on a agrarian radio program in her native Santiago de Cuba, schooled in the artistic ferment of the local casa de trova ("troubadour") scene alongside her now-famous younger brother, Eliades. Así Quiero Vivir, María Ochoa's first lead outing (at age 56), presents a powerful interpreter of Cuban traditional music, whose raspy, dynamic attack exhibits the passionate vocal qualities that inform her brother's singing style as well. The success of Corazón De Son's mission to revivify campesino ("country") music is manifest in the group's latter-day reinterpretations of classic tunes like "Que Viva Changó," exemplary of an inspired mix of rural genres: son, son montuno, danzón, sucu sucu, guajira, guaracha and bolero-cha. Ochoa's voice finds ideal complement in the sextet's tight, bright neo-traditional vocal and instrumental approach, led by the ringing tres of virtuoso Rey Cabrera Castellanos and flautist Enrique Navarro Acosta, with Eliades Ochoa sitting in on "El Reto" and "Como Estoy Sufriendo." It's been a long time coming, but from the birthplace of the son, this recording marks the emergence of María Ochoa as one of Cuban traditional music's most spirited contemporary interpreters. - Michael Stone

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