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Review: "Jíbaro Hasta El Hueso

2003, Smithsonian Folways Recordings

We have long been accustomed to exemplary musical productions from Smithsonian Folkways Recordings and this latest example: "Jíbaro Hasta el Hueso" is no exception. This collection of sixteen works, representative of the folk music traditions of Puerto Rico, palpably distills its essence and delivers an authentic experience.

The album title aptly captures a common theme in Puerto Rican literature and music: a deep national pride that is seemingly disproportionate to such a small island. The "jíbaro", which superficially translates as peasant, is a treasured archetype in Puerto Rican culture through which the tradition, beliefs and hopes of the common man is expressed.

Maestro Miguel Santiago Díaz leads his "Ecos de Borinquen" folk music band, including talented pupil, Karol Aurora de Jesús Reyes on a delightful musical journey that starts with "A mi dulce amada", an "aguinaldo", or song typically associated with the Christmas season. The song introduces the important elements of Puerto Rican folk music and its typical instruments.

Several "seis" folk songs follow, all original compositions by Santiago Díaz. Many different styles of seis songs are presented and notable among these is the seis in the Vieques style: "Somos Puertorriqueños" where the maestro is beautifully supported by the expert cuatro of José Juan Delgado Serrano and joined with vocals by de Jesús.

Although not technically considered folk music, Santiago Diaz also includes a mazurka and a native derivative of European ballroom dance known as a "danza", in this extraordinary collection.

The quick tempo seis chorreao, "Diálogo" is a fitting end to this delectable tribute to Puerto Rican folk music.

Listeners unfamiliar with Puerto Rican folk music will especially appreciate the extensive liner notes that provide a concise yet excellent discussion of each track as well of the history and instruments of the genre.

For more information please visit Smithsonian Folkways or call +1 888-folkways


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