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Mujer de Cabaret

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Album Review

You hear a lot about Cuban son, but not so much about its Dominican counterpart, although son, along with ranchera, is probably the most widespread of the Latin song styles, even today. However, this debut — at the tender age of 83 — by Puerto Plata (his nickname, for the town of his birth; his real name is Jose Manuel Cobles) goes a little way toward righting that balance. Recorded in two separate live sessions with two different groups, Plata does indeed have a wonderful, rich voice that does justice to the material, and he covers everything from guarachas to merengues, ranchera and bolero, all under the loose, general category of son (in fact, there's only one real son on here, "Baracoa"). It's a very satisfying album, and the bands are superb, especially guitarists Edilio Paredes and Frank Mendez. But if there are thoughts of this becoming a Dominican version of the Buena Vista Social Club, that's probably not going to happen. Mujer de Cabaret is good, but has slightly rough-hewn edges — indeed, that's actually part of its appeal — and it's never quite transcendent. However good Plata is, his voice doesn't possess the magic of the truly great.

Mujer de Cabaret, Puerto Plata
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