Super Uba - Tierra Lejana
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Super Uba
Tierra Lejana
IASO Records (

cd cover Bachata and merengue are to the Dominican Republic much as son and changui are to Cuba: deep-roots styles founded upon African rhythms, Spanish melodies and plenty of soul. Changing tastes and class disparities led to bachata (based most closely on Spanish bolero) being stigmatized as music for the lower class and the criminal underworld. That changed when the sound went electric in the late '80s, becoming popular throughout Latin America and among Latin expatriates in places like New York City. In the last few years bachata and merengue have been modernized with programmed beats, techno whomping and urban hipness that, as such things tend to do, led to a resurgent desire for the old style.

The music of Super Uba celebrates that return to roots with straightforward sizzle sure to please lovers of Latin and Caribbean sounds unconcerned with contemporary trappings. Lead voice Ubaldo Cabrera sings from the heart and gut in equal measure, and his acoustic rhythm guitar skims brightly along with the insistent riffing of lead player Edilio Paredes, sometimes bringing to mind the sparkle of African palmwine music. Standup bass, tambor (drum) and guira (metal scraper) complete the simple but enticing picture. Recorded in the Big Apple but sounding like it was laid down in some Dominican rural area, Tierra Lejana smokes both fast and furious as well as slower and steady. Similar "country" styles of music heard in Cuba and Puerto Rico have this kind of raw beauty, and the natural syncopation that foretold the rhythmic pull heard in so much modern Latin music is clear and concise. This stuff will lift your spirits, put a shimmy in your hips and make you happy that the Dominican Republic can rightly be counted among countries whose populations haven't forgotten what made their music great from the outset. - Tom Orr

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