Cuban salsa singer and bandleader excells on new CD. Will cause havoc on latin...
Neil Bennun 2003-01-16
Salsa superstar alert.
David Alvarez from Manzanillo, Cuba, takes the slick contemporary salsa of South America and re-injects a healthy dose of tempered anarchy, Cuban style. The result is a pan-Carribean style successfully designed to induce havoc on dancefloors.
It blazes; superb musicianship, tongue-in-cheek eroticism and a positively unearthly quantity of energy are the order of the day. Alvarez reclaims for Cuba a quantity of the cutting edge, not to mention the commerciality, normally considered the exclusive province of the Columbians and Venezuelans.
He achieves this while maintaining an unmistakably Cuban flavour in the music. He has a life-long addiction to the greats of bolero and son such as Beny Moré, Blanca Rosa and Trio Matamaros, a grounding in more traditional Cuban forms such as tres, and he very clearly likes to party.
The colours are bright, the music uptempo and the lyrics consistently engaging here. Alvarez's voice, with its force, lack of pretension and gentle vibrato is instantly familiar. The vocal harmonies and arrangements, showcased to splendid effect on Oscar Olivera's 'Mi Velorio' and his amusing reworking of 'Que Rico Vacilon', here an emotive pean to a slippery Argentinian woman, show some genuine innovation.
Although the emphasis is overwhelmingly weighted towards salsa, Alvarez successfully co-opts instruments from all over the Latin and Caribbean musical world. Theres a hint of tango on on 'Que Rico Vacilon' and bright guitar runs somewhere between calypso and west African pop on 'El Beso', while the clever, understated use of samplers and synthesisers demonstrate a forward-looking approach.
For a splendid arranger and genuine lyrical talent possessed of a curiously moving voice, this is something of a breakthrough album. Pretty much state of the art for contemporary salsa.