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cd cover Eliseo Parra
De ayer mañana
World Village (

Singer Eliseo Parra has dedicated himself to reinterpreting the diversity of folk traditions from across Spain, and sings in the country's four official languages, Castilian (Spanish), Basque, Catalan and Galician. His work retains the gritty, primordial feel of the originals, but he's no conservative. The nimble baile corridor "Maragata," for example, is rendered by a quartet of frame drummers on pandero cuadrado and pandereta, complemented by piano, mandola, saxophones and bass. "Galandún" assigns six vocalists to a charro dance, accompanied by a thundering trio of drummers, bagpipes, electric guitar and bass, ending in an extended harmonic rapping word play. "Río Verde" reworks a dance from Asturias with a reflective jazz piano solo lead, breaking into a richly textured array of Hammond organ, soprano and tenor saxes, drum set, hand percussion and congas. "Que me lo llevan," an airy, stripped down charrada dance from Salamanca, takes flight on a blend of flutes, moxeños (bamboo flutes), ocarinas and whistles, along with what sounds like (an uncredited) berimbau. "La rama" is an evocative circular melody from Caceres, while "Las jotas de 'El Chato'" heads south to Murcia, land of guitar, laud (lute), jaleos (shouts) and palmas (handclapping), with uncommon additions including soprano sax, electric guitar, Venezuelan cuatro and bansuri.

For anyone familiar with the range of Iberian folk traditions, Parra presents an idiosyncratic revision that will charm the uninitiated as well. Lyrics and discographic information are in Spanish, with summary album notes in Spanish, French and English. De Ayer Mañana (of yesterday tomorrow) says it all in the title, an engaging and instructive addition to the Spanish folk revival. - Michael Stone

Caveat emptor: The CD package designer, enthralled with an origami concept that complicates the listener's desire to learn more about the musicians and their music, put the lyrics and notes for each song on its own separate folded piece of paper. The result is an accordion wad of scraps, clumsy to handle and read, and easily scattered all over the place. Is it just a packaging mess that detracts from the superb music or a physical metaphor for the utter diversity of the recording's scope?

CD available at cdRoots

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