María Salgado
Siete Modos de Guisar las Berenjenas
NubeNegra/Alula (

cd cover The focus on Spanish singer María Salgado's second solo release moves from the Cuban habanera of her debut recording "Mirándote" to an eclectic mix of Spanish and Sephardic tunes. The exquisite Spanish instrumental combo La Musgaña is featured on a few of the tracks, but Salgado's vocal clearly dominates, supported by an ensemble which successfully reaches for the creative and the inspiring. Her precise intonations and sunny, smiling sound suffuse even the slower, sadder songs, emphasizing the hopefulness in the often fatalistic outlook of the traditional lyrics.

"A la Medianoche"
The title track, a light waltz from Rhodes, catalogs how friends and relatives prepare eggplant, revealing character as much as cooking style. Salgado is joined by a chorus to repeatedly point out how one uncle washes down the squashes, however cooked, with copious wine. "A la Medianoche" begins as a quick march with Moorish instrumentation. Salgado's strong vocal is dramatically supplemented by the quavering, evocative hurdy-gurdy of Germán Diaz in this traditional Castillian tale of gypsies and an old broken heart that speeds into a swirling waltz of amnesia. "Canto de Siega," begins with an ominous drone and a sinuous desert call on a hurdy-gurdy. Salgado takes up the same melody in a deliberate, dramatic rhythm, offering both fatalism and romance.

Two of the best tracks feature La Musgaña. "Dia de Hilar," perhaps the highpoint of the record, begins with quick waltz featuring melody on tamboril, a three-holed flute played one-handed, and transforms smoothly into a quick two-step, Salgado's vocal a miracle of intonation and melodic elaboration. In "Amor Amor," Salgado's voice turns breathless and a touch bitter, supported by bagpipes and soprano sax. "Siete Modos de Guisar las Berenjenas" will leave you humming the tunes, smitten with the voice, and hungry for Mediterranean cuisine. - Jim Foley

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