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Guajiro Natural

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Album Review

He's not quite a bolero singer and not quite a salsa vocalist or a folky. The Cuban-born coalman-turned-performer draws on his rich heritage to mix a little of everything on a spirited collection of songs whose emotions rise above the need to understand the Spanish lyrics. His raspy, emotive voice is the focal point, but it's almost as intriguing listening to the bouncing musical balls behind him. Though it is uncredited, the peppering flute improvisation and shaker percussion of "Amanece El Nuevo Ano" creates an atmosphere as festive as the sunrise its words translate to. Spanish trumpets wail for emphasis on the title track, which finds Montanez doing call and response with an infectious choir. That choir returns in numerous spots throughout the recording, always with good cheer. The overall vibe is peppy and toe-tapping, but on occasion there's a more folkloric reflection along the lines of "Donde Estara" or the romantic slow dance "Si Fuera Mia." The violin entwined on this track may remind listeners of Willie Royal from Willie & Lobo. In fact, a case could be made that this is a slightly more exotic Willie & Lobo-type project with vocals and extra spices. It seems odd that the singer is depicted on the packaging as playing the guitar when the guitar is credited to Luis Hernandez. The guitar rides shotgun all the way, stirring up rhythms and loping rhythm lines best identified stylistically by connoisseurs of all types of Latin music.

Biography

Born: 05 June 1955 in Sierra del Rosario, Pinar del Río

Genre: Salsa and Tropical

Years Active: '00s

The news of the death of Cuban singer Polo Montañez on November 26, 2002, as a result of an automobile accident shocked and grieved fans of Latin music around the world. In Havana, where fans of the self-proclaimed "Guajiro Natural" -- a Homegrown Country Boy -- had been listening anxiously to hourly radio bulletins updating his condition, the loss registered as a national tragedy. Born Fernando Borrego Linares in the rural province of Pinar del Rio, Cuba, on June 5, 1955, his nickname -- adopted...
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Guajiro Natural, Polo Montañez
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