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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

MATAHAMBRE SON

By ROBERT KAYE
Published May 5, 2006

Pequenas Historias del Oriente de Cuba
Danza Y Movimiento

Packaged in an attractive, well-written CD/booklet, this bilingual release (English/German) explores the traditional sounds of Cuba’s Oriente province. Most songs are structured around the son, the precursor to modern forms of Musica AfroCubano, and not just in Cuba. The son began to materialize in the late 19th century as an amalgam of African and Latin cultures, which have populated the island nation for centuries. On this recording, the folkloric sextet—consisting of vocals, tres (a double chorus six-string guitar tuned to a major chord), acoustic bass, guitar, bongo and percussion—performs true roots music. Within each track one can discern the essential, unadorned elements that have evolved, and in more urban environs into sophisticated genres such as salsa and timba. For those fond of these more complex, contemporary genres, this album may come across as campestral. If one can appreciate its historical implications, while grooving on some authentic, well-executed performances, there is much to meet the ear.