Barbarito Torres
Havana Café
Havana Caliente/Atlantic

The Buena Vista Social Club phenomenon brought international notice to numerous Cuban musicians, among them Barbarito Torres, a master of the acoustic guitar and the laúd, a 12-string lute-like instrument with a ringing mandolin sound. Torres offers a brilliant combination of son, bolero, changúi, danzón-cha, guajira, guaracha and guaguancó, backed by tres, contrabass, percussion and four strong vocalists. Clearly, these folks truly enjoy each other's musical company. Among the highlights are the Arsenio Rodriguez composition "Corazon de chivo," "El tren (pico y pala)," and Omara Portuondo's anguished "Lagrimas negras," tastefully accompanied by pianist Frank Emilio Flynn and trumpeter Luis "El Guajiro" Mirabal. The star-studded guest list also includes singers Ibrahim Ferrer and Pio Leyva, flautist Richard Egües, and Tomás "El Panga" Ramos on tumbadora. The attractive package includes bilingual lyric transcriptions and lots of atmospheric photographs. A rumba-flamenco bolt from the blue awaits the listener about 1:15 after the apparent end of the last track: "Que viva Chango." - Michael Stone

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