January 9, 2018

Plena Libre | Amores En El Camino

ARTIST: Plena Libre
TITLE: Amores En El Camino
LABEL: GN Musica
Now in its 25th year, Plena Libre has become an institution – probably the world’s best known band specializing in the indigenous rhythms of Puerto Rico, bomba and plena. This is their 16th album (four previous ones have been nominated for Grammies) and it stays true to form with a powerful groove rooted in tradition, speaking clearly and directly to contemporary listeners and dancers. Plena Libre is a sextet of bass and five percussionists, four of whom share the singing. Guests join the core on horns, piano and more, but voices and drums are essence of their sound: just the first minute of track 2’s high energy bomba will give you the idea. My other favorites here are plenas: 6 is in the trombanga arrangement style pioneered by Eddie Palmieri; 3 adds the strings (via a synthesizer) that Palmieri subtracted; and 5 has something different – a steel pan player. When you hear these guys, you’ll note how much of what we call salsa comes directly from these two Puerto Rican rhythms. This album was scheduled for release in October; Hurricane Maria scuttled those plans, but this music is way more powerful than any natural or man-made disaster.
TOP TRACKS:    2    3    5    6
ALSO RECOMMENDED:    1    4    7    8    9

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