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Gracias Compay - The Definitive Collection

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Album Review

Although Compay Segundo will ever be remembered as one of the great characters of Buena Vista Social Club, that was only one tiny part of his career. Gracias Compay: The Definitive Collection captures some of the great songs from the second wind of his career, when he'd become an international star again. Inevitably, there's his signature song, "Chan Chan," in not one but two versions, but it's simply one of many diamonds here, like "Saludo A Chango," where he duets with rai star Khalèd, and comes out ahead with his laid-back style. That style, however, was typical of the music of Santiago, and it permeated everything Segundo did. The harmonies on the chorus, the singing lines on the tres (or at times on Segundo's own armonico, a cross between a tres and a guitar), and the stripped-down backing of bass and percussion — his music was just redolent of the area, and it can be heard in his very affecting "Guantanamera," or the recent "Oui Parle Francais." A witty, eloquent writer, he composed more than his share of classics in a long career, and many of them are here, songs like "Saradonga," given definitive performances. And that helps this album really live up to its name.


Born: 1907 in Siboney, Cuba

Genre: Latino

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Legendary Cuban guitarist Compay Segundo was born in 1907; collaborating with the likes of Sindo Garay, Miguel Matamoros and Benny Moré, he emerged as one of the most respected musicians of the pre-revolution era, and in the late '20s invented the armónico, a guitar customized with a double third string to fuse the tonal qualities of the traditional Cuban tres guitar and its Spanish counterpart. Following Fidel Castro's rise to power, Segundo worked as a cigar roller before returning to music during...
Full Bio
Gracias Compay - The Definitive Collection, Compay Segundo
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