RUBÉN BLADES — Tiempos (review)

RUBÉN BLADES — Tiempos album cover Album · 1999 · Afro-Cuban Jazz Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
Matt
Born 1948 in Panama and first had his start in the music buisness as the mail boy at Fania Records.Certainly has come a long way since then with the Salsa hits that he wrote and recorded."Siembra" the album would be the most famous of them where he collaborated with Willie Colon and don't forget that this is the man who wrote Hector Lavoe's signature tune 'El Cantante". Ruben is multi skilled to say the least and has a few other occupations up his sleeve, actor, lawyer and even a politician back at home in Panama.This album mainly concerns the events and memories in Ruben's life and his coming acceptance of what happens to us all no matter who you are. Helping Ruben Blades in this album is the Costa Rican band Editus who are accoustic comprising Ricardo Ramirez (violin,viola), Edin Solis (guitar), Carlos Vargas "Tapado"(percussion of all manner ) and Ruben Blades doing lead vocal. Also we have behind the production another five muscians providing piano, keyboards, electric bass, saxophone, percussion of all manner, five string players, three on violin and two on violas plus another four particapating but only percussion spots on two songs collectively. Apart from the saxophone there is no brass which is very unusual for a latin album.This is nothing like Ruben's earlier material when he was doing Salsa at Fania but more introspective and with a distinct latin accoustic sound that he has created. One of a kind actually seems to be the best description for the music within and as usual the vocals by Ruben are full of emotion and he really can transport feel with that ache he has in his voice.

Twelve songs are on the album with each only getting better towards the end but first up, "Mar del Sur" with sounds of the sea, the strings and violin opening and that latin percussion just keeping a light sound, also guitar and really it is bordering towards classical at points.Instrumental and it really captures the feel of the ocean with its sound. The following "Vida" has a much more latin approach with in its structure and even harkens back to the previous album, La Rosa de Los Vientos" with the style of the tune, the rythmn and the accoustics. One great sax solo is put down in the tune and maybe the closest to a salsa tune you will get. Strings and accoustic instruments abound with in this album all underpinned by percussion providing a latin beat within many of the songs. Violin is everywhere and always played beatifully. The last four songs or compositions as they should be called are simply superb with some gorgeous accoustics and track eleven is one with its guitar opening and violin with Rubens voice coming in with that ache and exquisite violin later. The song is named "Encrucijada" ( Crossroads).The following "Ilusiones" is an instrumental with violin, guitar, piano and is bordering on Classical music as the first song on the album with it structure, a fairly short piece of only four minutes but every minute is gorgeous. "Dia Dia is 2nd last and Ruben is back with this on vocals with a bit more tempo with violin and guitar are all over it. "Tiempos" ( Times) is the last track with its beautiful sax opening and Ruben's Blades does it again with the vocal, great percussion underneath. Saxophone is the major solo but there is violin as well.

The band Editus made such a stunning contribution to this recording and this is one of three total masterpieces in latin music that Ruben Blades has created. He is one great songwriter and singer and should be famous throughout the world for his efforts in this genre. Not only just Latin America. Great music is that no matter what the language or style.
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