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Album Review

Santiago de Cuba's Familia Valera Miranda will be no strangers to the world's son enthusiasts. This musical dynasty towers high above the world of traditional Cuban music in the region of Santiago, so high in fact that it's difficult for any changui, bolero, or son musician to escape the shadow that they cast. Singer, tresero, and percussionist Félix Valera Miranda heads the Traditional Music Department of the Santiago Provincial Music Center as well as fronting the family's musical operation. Since their debut release in 1997, La Familia have produced consistently top-drawer folkloric recordings. However, with an explosion of interest in Cuba's rural musical styles over the last ten years, it's easy for a new release to get lost in the shuffle. Son fans are being absolutely drowned by very high-quality albeit virtually identical new records. "Oh goody, another new son record" is a natural first response to La Familia's 2006 offering Cantos de Ida y Vuelta. The magic in this record is in its special guests, Gypsy vocalist Antoine "Tato" Garcia and flamenco singer Sabrina Romero. The Andalusian-flavored vocals add a haunting, delicious quality. Cajon, clapas, and guitar reunited with long lost cousins bongo, clave, and tres make for a rich, enchanting listen. La Familia Valera are such accomplished musicians that the foreign elements are welcomed and celebrated. Cantos de Ida y Vuelta is a truly unique, indispensable addition to an increasingly stale genre. ~ Evan C. Gutierrez, Rovi

Cantos de Ida y Vuelta, Antoine 'Tato' Garcia
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