Personnel: Jos? Antonio Rodr¡guez, Luis Barzaga (vocals); Eduardo Himely (guitar); Amado J. Dedeu (congas); Carlos Puisseaux (guiro).
Audio Mixer: Eduardo Himely.
Liner Note Author: David Flower.
Recording information: Migo Records Studios, Havana, Cuba (2005).
Arrangers: Jos? Antonio Rodr¡guez; Eduardo Himely.
Son might be a bit of a catch-all name for many of the Cuban styles, but there's no doubt it's completely associated with Cuba. What Sierra Maestra offer on this album is a brief history of son, with big songs from such classic composers as Beny Mor? and Arsenio Rodriguez. As is apparent from the glorious resonance of the tres on the opening "El Son No Puede Fallar," they don't try and shoehorn all the songs into a single style. They mix things up, sometimes stripping things down, sometimes utilizing the band and their guests for a '50s sound reminiscent of the globally successful Buena Vista Social Club. There's plenty of melody here, as you'd expect, played with plenty of vigor and zest -- but there's also a great deal of tenderness, the full breadth of son and its possibilities. If you want to understand what makes son so special, not only to Cubans, but to the world, Son: Soul of a Nation is an excellent place to begin. ~ Chris Nickson