Pedro Luis Ferrer,
(Escondida, 2005)

The 13 tracks in this rich and diverse assortment of original songs in Spanish, Pedro Luis Ferrer's native tongue, are a celebration of ethnicity, working class culture and revolutionary politics.

The songs sound wonderfully traditional and are enjoyable to the untrained Anglo ear. But those who understand the various strains that make up Cuban music will probably enjoy Ferrer's album better because they will see how wonderfully he reinvents his native music, even as he departs from it. Ferrer is a revolutionary singer who knows that the best songs are the singable ones -- especially those lyrics that, with their word-play, resonate and challenge the restrictions of Fidel Castro's Cuba. And this collection of ballads, many with a gentle sprinkling of irony, is definitely singable. The songs show the many different influences that make up Cuban music, from the more African sounds of the "Changui Para la Pena" to the Andean vocal harmonies of "Como Vivire Mi Cholita."

The album opens with a song in the son tradition ("Fundamento"), accompanied by Ferrer's daughter, Lena. But in using the tradition and expectations of a song that speaks about the everyday struggles of life ("Yo Quiero fundamento, Mama, I want seriousness, sweetie"), it touches upon economics in particular and the need and freedom to speak of important things in general. "Como vivire, Mi Cholita" is a snappy song with Andean vocal harmonies score and the percussive Peruvian cajon rather than the Cuban rumba box. Throughout the album father and daughter move among many flavors of Latin American, Spanish Moorish and Afro-Caribbean music, using instruments in innovative and uniquely unexpected combinations. Especially fun were "Conga Vegetariana," which makes fun of well-fed Westerners who choose to have a "meatless lifestyle" in a world where others don't have that choice; and the fun free-spirited "Puchita Peliton," who wears no panties. The unexpected musical combinations thus reflect both the traditional and the revolutionary compositions, making Rustico a highly recommended introduction to revolutionary as well as traditional music.

Guitarist Ferrer is joined by Lena Ferrer on the cajon and percussionist Basilio Perodin on marimbula, African clave, cow bell and bongos.

by Carole McDonnell
17 September 2005

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