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Para Todos Ustedes

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Album Review

Para Todos Ustedes is a successful fusion of some traditional elements of Puerto Rican music with more contemporary influences. Specifically, it draws heavily from the bomba rhythmic and percussive style, and the call-and-response-oriented plena topical song form, though it also bears the marks of salsa and jazz. It's a lengthy (75 minutes) album, which gives the musicians a chance to offer considerable variety within their loose ensemble format, though a good-natured, upbeat mood is maintained throughout. The shifting percussive rhythms might be the most distinctive feature, while call-and-response vocals also take central position on songs like "Angelito (Little Angel)." Combined with the quick, roving, jazzy guitar patterns, this might sound to some ears like a somewhat Latinized version of some contemporary African music, though such similarities are attributable to both styles having evolved from similar sources. At times the jazz aspects come more to the fore, while the more traditional aspects are accented on an update of a bomba chant, "Campo (Land)/Yo Cantare Esta Boma, (I Shall Sing This Bomba)." There's a little bit of both English and Spanish rap in "Chiviriquiton," but that's the only such interjection in an album that's very much grounded in Puerto Rican styles.


Genre: Salsa and Tropical

Years Active: '80s, '90s

The music and dance of Puerto Rico are preserved through the performances of New York-based los Planeros De La 21. Formed in 1983 by Juan Gutierrez, the 12-piece ensemble spans three generations of Puerto Rican musicians, dancers, and artisans. With their complex, multi-part vocal harmonies set to the rhythms of hand-held plena drums and barrel-shaped bomba drums, the group resurrects the African-rooted bomba and plena musical styles of Puerto Rico. While Billboard praised the band for its "exhilaratingly...
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Para Todos Ustedes, Los Pleneros de la 21
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