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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

HECHO EN CUBA SERIES:

By Tom Pryor
Published September 13, 2005

Hecjo En Cuba
Escondida ESC 6501-2

Hecko En Cuba 2
Escondida ESC 6503-2

Hecho En Cuba 3
Escondida ESC 6506-2

Escondida records' excellent Hecho En Cuba series returns with its third installment and the reissue of the two previous records in the franchise. For those unfamiliar with the series, Hecho En Cuba licenses original son and rumba tracks from EGREM, Cuba's state-run label, which has had a near monopoly on music recorded on the island for 40 years. Though Escondida's arrangement with EGREM is by no means exclusive (the Qbadisc label also licenses EGREM recordings), it's been particularly fruitful, especially when it comes to unearthing rare and unfamiliar tracks from the Buena Vista Social Club crew. All the big guns are represented in the series: Eliades Ochoa, Omara Portuondo, Ibrahim Ferrer, Compay Segundo, etc. Many of them perform earlier, more traditional versions of the same songs that BVSC made famous. These original recordings have a warmer, more lived-in feel than their better-known versions, but the real treats in this series are the little-known gems that the producers unearthed from the EGREM vaults, such as Ferrer's rocking "Aputate una mi social" from Vol.2, and Segundo's "Oui Parle Francais" from Vol. 3. Volumes 2 and 3 also expand the brand, with performances by, respectively, Roberto Fonseca and the late, great Celia Cruz. Taken together, these three discs are an invaluable addition to anyone's CD collection.