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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America


Published May 5, 2006

Buenos Hermanos
World Circuit/Nonesuch

As good as Buenos Hermanos is—Ibrahim Ferrer’s latest solo CD is a winner—it’s hard not to get stuck on the album’s closer, the rousing “Oye El Consejo.” Ferrer improvises with obvious relish as the chorus of musicians and percussion spur him on. But don’t dare dismiss the rest of Buenos Hermanos. Yes, there are boleros (like “Perfume de Gardenias” and “Mil Congojas”) and old-school sones (like “La Musica Cubana”) that you would expect. But you would miss the edge producer Ry Cooder (working possibly for the last time in Cuba) and ensemble—including pianist Chucho Valdes, accordionist Flaco Jiménez and, surprise, the Blind Boys of Alabama—bring to this collection. Although Ferrer’s deceptively laid-back singing and good humor still inform all he does, what also comes across is his willingness to reach beyond his well-established frame of reference. Songs like “Boliviana” crackle with raw energy; boleros like “Mil Congojas” drip with a melancholia only hinted at previously by Ferrer. For the septuagenarian singer, Buenos Hermanos marks a subtle reshifting of focus, a move many younger musicians wouldn’t dare.