Abelardo Barroso with Orquestra Sensación ‘Cha Cha Cha’ LP/CD/Dig (World Circuit) 5/5

abelardo-barrosoThe whole Buena Vista phenomenon had musicologists once more delving into the past to re-examine the golden age of Cuban music from the 1950s and this superlative re-issue harks back to that era with first-class artwork that conjures up the period to perfection and deluxe quality packaging befitting the premier world roots label that World Circuit has become. Vocalist Abelardo Barroso fronted a larger ensemble in the Orchestra Sensación that were are all the rage in the 1950s throughout Latin America and the United States until their eventual demise in the 1960s when the smaller salsa-influenced groups more generally came into vogue. The music on offer here is a glimpse into that period and contains fourteen golden nuggets. One example is the infectious groove of the piano-led number ‘El Huerfanito’ with a dramatic vocal delivery from Barroso and gorgeous string and percussive accompaniment with the sound of the flute floating over the whole. Another intoxicating burner is the mid-tempo ‘La hija de Juan Simón’ while the evergreen ‘El guajiro de Cunagua’ depends on a repetitive and yet nonetheless devastatingly catchy piano vamp with joint lead male vocals. A real highlight is the charanga-based number ‘Tiene sabor’ that leaves no stone unturned in its desire to delight and the plucked violins and flute make for an unbeatable combination. Starting off proceedings on a high note is the uptempo cooker, ‘En Guantánamo’ which lingers long on the ear and is a foot-tapping stomper of a tune it is too. Bi-lingual lyrics to the songs are reproduced in full next to one another which greatly aids comprehension and the attractively designed inner sleeve is a treat in itself with careful attention to detail and even a separate pouch for the CD which takes a leaf out of the Japanese penchant for loving care for the product. Why flood the record market with inferior product that will not stand the test of time when you can be selective and release gems like this? Quality always rises to the top and this re-issue belongs firmly in that elite category.

Tim Stenhouse