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Essays

The Collaboration of Willie Colón/Rubén Blades at Fania Records - Page 3

Metiendo Mano, Part I - page 2       Siembra - page 4

Fue Varon:

A song which tells the nervousness of the future father in the maternity waiting room while his wife is being confined. What is really interesting in this piece, is the richness and the quality of Rubén's soneos. For the uninitiated, 'soneos' are the passages where the singer improvises in response to the chorus. Of course, in the case of a recording, it's not really a question of improvisations. The interventions of the singer are prepared, written in advance, sometimes even improved in the studio. But traditionally, this part is improvised, and if it is not the case, it is in any case left to the free interpretation of the singer. There are despite everything some exceptions, as that of Ismael Rivera, who will always take care to preserve on his recordings the same spontaneïty that he has on stage.

Rubén shows here much inventiveness at the rhythmic and melodic level, but also in the humor of the texts of the 'soneos'. For examples, this sentence from the doctor: "Four are born already, we await the 2 others", or this one: "Go tell Tite Curet Alonso (composer of one of the pieces of the album) that the little one spoke, he spoke!".

The other pieces of the disc are:

Segun El Color: sung with two voices with Willie;

Me Recordaras: a bolero sung in a deep register which is not familiar from Rubén, with a very beautiful solo of acoustic guitar of Yomo Toro;

Plantacion Adentro: a piece of Tite Curet Alonso, mythic and very productive Puerto Rican composer, about another character, the Indian Camilo Manrique, killed under the blows of the foreman, where one hears Rubén imitate various instruments (trombone, cuica Brazilian) during the mambo;

Mora: with its structure of 'montuno' alternating short chorus and long chorus, and a Moorish mambo; Lluvia De Tu Cielo: a rather slow piece, with rather lyric 'soneos' and a trombone solo by Willie;

Pueblo : an authentic guaguanco in which percussionnist Milton Cardona, great specialist of the kind, must please.

The characters of Camilo Manrique (in "Plantacion Adentro") and of Pablo Pueblo, closer to the daily events of certain towns of Latin America than of New York, would allow the disc to gain a great success in export. While the imagery and the words of salsa still took their source in Cuba or in Africa, or in the streets of Bronx, Rubén would widen it and seek his topics of choice in the everyday life of the great urban concentrations of all of Latin America. Closer to the public than the afro and/or Cuban phantasms, more universal than the bad neighborhoods of New York.

The quality of the instrumentalists and arrangements is also one of the reasons of the success of this album. One will not see again the legendary José Mangual Jr. But there is on all the Colón/Blades discs the bass player El Salvador "Sal" Cuevas, who started to develop his personal style, inspired by the technique of the slapping bass of funk. The most modern sonorities of his bass playing are a true revolution in the use of this instrument. Sal Cuevas is for the bass players a character as significant as are Rubén Blades or Héctor Lavoe for the singers.

Metiendo Mano, Part I - page 2       Siembra - page 4

Other websites by this publisher: jimserrat.com  AND  carletteandjim.com




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