Pedro Luis Ferrer,
(Escondida, 2006)

Pedro Luis Ferrer is a musical innovator and sharp social critic. In a recent interview, he said rather than revolution he believes in evolution -- stimulating ideas and means of making non-violent transformation of society possible.

That attitude landed him in hot water with Fidel Castro, and his music has been banned from the national media. Despite that, Ferrer is beloved by many in Cuba as a musician who has reinvented the country's musical traditions and transformed them to create a new means of expression. He took his music underground, giving private concerts in homes, and these performances have been recorded by fans and distributed illegally.

A self-taught musician, he calls himself a nuevo trovo, a new troubadour, who composes, sings and accompanies himself on guitar. His music is guaracha, a style developed in Cuba that is lively, rhythmic and often with satirical lyrics. Ferrer created his own genre that he terms changuisa, a folkloric style that has its roots in Spain and Africa.

It's music that's easy to listen to and like -- even if one doesn't speak Spanish. It brims over with lust for life ("Vida me da/Life's Gifts"), joy ("Carinito/A Little Cuddling") and humor ("Pelito de mi bigote/That Little Hair in My Mustache").

And, there's even social protest ("Repeticiones") -- "Don't argue, don't think, don't try to dissent."

For those who don't speak the language, there are English translations of the lyrics in the jacket liner. Ferrer's robust baritone voice is evenly matched by backup singers Lena Ferrer, his daughter, and Lerlys Morales. Sit back, have a cup of coffee (preferably Cuban blend), close your eyes and listen.

by John R. Lindermuth
30 September 2006

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