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90 Millas

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Album Review

Ever since Gloria Estefan split from Miami Sound Machine in 1989 to go solo, her best efforts tended to be her Spanish-language ones, and her fourth such album, 90 Millas, is no exception. In fact, it might be her best overall effort — regardless of language — since Mi Tierra (1993), which was her first to be sung entirely in Spanish and an instant, best-selling classic. In a couple ways, 90 Millas is a follow-up to Mi Tierra. Both are heartfelt albums inspired by Cuba and Cuban music — whereas Abriendo Puertas (1995) and Alma Caribeña (2000), Estefan's other two prior Spanish-language efforts, were more broadly Hispanic and Caribbean, respectively, in their influences and intent — and both 90 Millas and Mi Tierra are graced by some of Latin music's most gifted instrumentalists, many of them legends. In this case, the featured guests include Papo Lucca, Johnny Pacheco, Candido Camero, Paquito d'Rivera, Nelson González, Andy García, Sheila E, Carlos Santana, Orestes Vilato, Israel "Cachao" López, Generoso Jiménez, Giovanni Hidalgo, India, José Feliciano, Arturo Sandoval, Sal Cuevas, and Luis Enrique. It's an impressive lineup of musicians; for instance, the album's lead single, "No Llores," alone boasts Carlos Santana on electric guitar, José Feliciano on acoustic guitar, Sal Cuevas on bass, Sheila E. on timbales, and Luis Enrique on congos and bongos. That's not all, though. 90 Millas also boasts an ace production and songwriting team: husband/impresario Emilio Estefan (of course) and the Gaitán Bros. (Ricardo and Alberto). Then there's Gloria herself, who is the vehicle for this superstar project. She's in good voice here — as well-mannered and graceful as usual — and co-writes many of the songs. Yet it's the musicianship and the songs themselves, surprisingly few of them ballads, that shine brightest here on this love letter to Cuba, that oft-romanticized, and fiercely politicized, island 90 miles off the coast of Florida. Though born there, Gloria left as a child. In her heart, however, she never left her homeland behind, as this album and its predecessor, Mi Tierra, make clear, for both albums are among the best — and certainly most poetic and impassioned — efforts of her long, illustrious career. Practically every song here is a gem, and they're a rarity in 2007, a year in which traditional Cuban music like this couldn't have been further away from the mainstream of Latin music in America, where regional Mexican and urban dominated the marketplace.

Customer Reviews

Gloria's Numero Uno

90 Millas, her fourth Spanish album, is another love letter to her homeland. It’s aptly named for the distance between Key West - the southernmost point of the United States - and the island of Cuba. 90 Millas is a fiesta. It doesn’t matter if you understand Spanish or not, it’ll get you moving or want to learn how to dance salsa. This new addition to Estefan’s extensive catalog of music is her very best. “No Llores” (Don’t Cry) brings together the exceptional José Feliciano and Carlos Santana on guitars, with Sheila E and Luis Enrique on percussion. Because of Santana’s distinctive opening riff, the listener will immediately be reminded of “Smooth,” and that’s not such a bad thing. This caliente tune is already climbing the charts in much the same way. “Píntame” (Paint Me) is in the tradition of the Cuban ‘son,’ or folk song. It’s heavy on the bongos, timbales, and the Cuban Tres - the guitar-like instrument with three double strings present in many Afro-Cuban bands. This type of song celebrates the union of lush landscapes and love among country folks. There are layered vocals and short verses, with the ongoing chorus prevailing. The actor, Andy Garcia, shows his rhythm on the bongos here. A premier Tres player, Nelson Gonzalez shines brightly, and is a major contributor to this album. One of the slow tunes on 90 Millas, “Bésame” (Kiss Me) is a beautiful love song. José Feliciano - a frequent collaborator of Estefan’s - does his magic on the acoustic guitar. And on flute, Johnny Pacheco (also known as El Maestro) - the Dominican-born composer, bandleader, and producer who pioneered salsa music in the United States. “Esperando” (Waiting) and the title track ponder the eventual freedom of Cuba. The second is especially rich in African chants. There are very few Spanish lyrics here, and they are sung much like a conga mantra: 90 millas vienen, 90 millas faltan (90 miles come, 90 miles still to go). Whether it’s wishful thinking or not, the timing of these songs couldn’t be better. The most interesting song on 90 Millas is “Morenita” (Dark-skinned Girl). Afro-Cuban rhythms are at their best in this composition. It tells of the Santeria ritual where saints are channel through chants, dances, and drums. This will get you shaking your hips and clapping your hands, as will the other two party songs – “A Bailar” (Let’s Dance) and “Esta Fiesta No Va Acabar” (This Party Will Not End.) Many high-caliber musicians participate in this high-energy celebration of Latin music. Aside from those already noted above, Latin jazz greats Arturo Sandoval and Pacquito D’Rivera play trumpet and saxophone respectively. The octogenarians, Candido Camero and Israel “Cachao” López aren’t slowing down just yet. Camero still bangs on the congas and bongos, while “Cachao,” the father of the mambo, plays the bass. 90 Millas is quite simply, the album Gloria Estefan was born to make. And if by chance it’s the last, then, what a way to celebrate!

La Reina ha regresado

La Reina de la bachata, el danzon y muntuno ha vuelto, excelente produccion de la Cubana, que encanta con su canto... mis felicitaciones desde Peru, tu admirador Aaron Paiva Leyton

This is an excellent album that show the true roots of Gloria

I LOVE Morenito it is the perfect blend of Latin and an influence of hip hop beat. Me odio is another favorite and of course the lead off single No Llores is an outstanding colaboration. this is just an amazing album and i hope that she has many many more!

Biography

Born: September 1, 1957 in Havana, Cuba

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

As one of the biggest new stars to emerge during the mid-'80s, singer Gloria Estefan predated the coming Latin pop explosion by a decade, scoring a series of propulsive dance hits rooted in the rhythms of her native Cuba before shifting her focus to softer, more ballad-oriented fare. Born Gloria Fajardo in Havana on September 1, 1957, she was raised primarily in Miami, Florida, after her father, a bodyguard in the employ of Cuban president Fulgencio Batista, was forced to flee the island following...
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