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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

SIMON DIAZ

By Paul-Emile Comeau
Published September 27, 2005

Mis Canciones - My Songs
World Village

Simon Diaz is the embodiment of the popular spirit of Venezuela, having been a very popular entertainer, radio and TV personality, actor, comedian, singer and songwriter for well over 50 years. His songs have been recorded by many big names such as Celia Cruz, Placido Domingo, Ry Cooder and the Gipsy Kings (who scored big reworking his “Caballo Viejo” into their hit “Bamboleo”) and his own recording output has been prodigious. And yet he remains very little known outside his country. Mis Canciones, his first North American release, one which also coincides with his Carnegie Hall debut, features new recordings of 15 of his most famous tonadas, Venezuelan cowboy ballads that celebrate the lifestyle of the llanos (high plains). The instrumentation is acoustic and includes Venezuelan harp, cuatra, mandolin, guitar and bass and Diaz also demonstrates his talent as a whistler. Moreover, Diaz’s lyrics contain wonderful imagery, as in “Your mouth is like freshly cut sugarcane.” Diaz is Venezuela’s Renaissance man.