Arturo Jorge ‘Finca Santa Elena’ CD (Tumi Music) 4/5

Tumi Music has long strived to champion the very finest, yet unrecognised names, in Latin rhythms and this has motivated label owner Mo Fini to make regular trips over to Cuba in order to unearth some of the hidden talent and très player and vocalist Arturo Jorge is one such find. He is an exponent of the trova, or singer-songwriting style, of which Silvio Rodriguez and Pablo Milanes are historically two of the major influences, but this is wrapped up in the campesino, or country style, which in practice means a pared down band comprising acoustic bass, maracas and bongos, guitar and all musicians doubling up on background vocals.

Devotion to the cause is the name of the game on ‘No va morir la trova tradiciónal’, which roughly translates as the trova style of performing will never die, and that sentiment is certainly endorsed by this writer, especially when, if this recording is anything to go by, it is in such a rude state of health. Simple repetitive riffs build up with added percussion and collective harmonies on the exquisite ‘Gózalo vacilalo’, and there is fine add-libbing on guitar on ‘De canto cristo a rio canto’, which is an instantly catchy mid-tempo affair. At times, it seems as if the instrumentation is caught up in a delicious loop, as on the more uptempo ‘Guajiro en la Habana’, where bass and guitar work wonders in tandem, while a similarly lively ‘Bailen nengo’, emphasizes how keeping things simple with collective harmonies pays dividends in the end. Handily, written in bi-lingual English and Spanish inner liner notes, and with the title track lyrics in both, this enchanting music visually conjurs up the very essence of the Cuban countryside and is heartily recommended to anyone with a love of fine rhythms and vocal harmonies. As a further step on for Latin neophytes, this music follows in the footsteps of 1960’s singer, Guillermo Portables, whom the World Circuit label did so much in the UK to publicise back in the 1990’s. This latest recording is a fine example of Cuban roots and a sure fire contender for best Latin roots album of the year.

Tim Stenhouse