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World Music CD Reviews Reggae & Caribbean

Los Rufinos

By Michael Stone
Published March 16, 2006

Música Original de Cuba
Empire Musicwerks 830


A singing sensation of Cuban broadcasting and the lively pre-revolutionary Havana nightclub scene, Los Rufinos was a family quartet (father, mother, daughter and son) specializing in close vocal harmonies and scatting, in a style recalling North American doo-wop and show tunes. Drawing upon Cuban and Mexican folk traditions but with a decided modernizing twist, Los Rufinos spent considerable time in Mexico prior to the Cuban revolution, returning there after 1959, then joining the Cuban exodus to south Florida. Quite distinct from another extremely well-received vocal group of the era, Los Zafiros, whose Cuban roots were always stylistically manifest, Los Rufinos were pan-Latin popularizers who just happened to be from Cuba. Accordingly, this 20-track compilation combines early 1950s Havana tracks with early 1960s work from Florida. Los Rufinos imprinted their inimitable vocal style on Cuban sones, boleros, cha-cha-cha and classics like “Siboney,” together with chestnuts from Mexico’s Huasteca and Veracruz regions.