Personnel: Miguel Matamoros, Rafael Cueto (vocals, guitar); Siro Rodriguez (vocals, percussion); Elena Burke, Haydee Portuondo, Moraima Secada, Omara Portuondo (vocals).
Author: Jos? Mart¡.
This excellent, sprawling collection opens with an 80-year-old recording of Trio Matamoros performing "Son de la Loma." Although it was made during the early days of recording technology, the recording is strikingly clear and defined, and both the singing and playing are spectacular. Whether intentionally or not, this track serves as something of a symbol for Cuban music in general: despite various kinds of repression and privation throughout its history, that tiny island country has managed to produce some of the sweetest, most lovely, and most complex popular music in the world. A Night in Cuba illustrates that truism with recordings made as long ago as 1928 and as recently as 2003. In some cases, it's not even known when the recording took place -- and some strains of Cuban music have changed so little over the decades that the music itself gives little clue. El Original Cuarteto d'Aida's brilliant "Yenyere Cumae -- El Bombo de Elena" is one such track, and it's one of the highlights of a consistently excellent program. Other highlights include Beny Mor?'s "Bonito y Sabroso," on which the vocals are especially nice, and a fine recent recording by Arturo Sandoval of Dizzy Gillespie's "Manteca." Even Gloria Estefan makes an appearance here, with the horn-heavy "Montuno." Hansel & Raul's "Como Roca" is a bit too much on the smooth jazz side, and Albita's "Habr Musica Guajira" is a bit emotionally bombastic even by Latin standards, but overall this disc is a complete delight. ~ Rick Anderson
Son De La Loma - Trio Matamoros
Mambo #5 - P?rez Prado
Yenyere Cumae-El Bombon De Elena - Original Cuarteto D'Aida
Bonito Y Sabroso - Beny Mor?
El Bodeguero - Orquesta Arag¢n
El Manisero - Xiomara Alfaro
Montuno - Gloria Estefan
Cuba Que Lindos Son Tus Paisajes - Willy Chirino/Celia Cruz