|Caravana Cubana - Late Night Sessions|
|Music Disc Reviews Audio CD|
|Written by Jerry Del Colliano|
|Tuesday, 18 January 2000|
The commercial success of the film ‘The Buena Vista Social Club’ has resulted in a rise in awareness to the power and soul of Cuban music. The Buena Vista Social Club CDs are unbelievable, as are The Afro Cuban All Stars. Caravana Cubana is at the same level of all-star performance coupled with stunning recording quality.
The concept of the Caravan Cuban project came in 1998 at the Los Angeles memorial for public radio broadcaster Emilio Vandenedes, who was a long-time supporter of Cuban music on his public radio show in L.A. and Miami. At the service, a who's who of Cuban artists performed with such passion that the music caught the attention of filmmaker George Hernandez, who facilitated bringing many of the artists together to record on the project. Many of the players hadn't worked with each other since their days with Louis Armstrong in the 1940s.
Musically, Caravan Cuban is a gem. It is packed with devastating rhythms, layered vocal harmonies, passionate cries and inspired solos. From an audio standpoint, Caravan Cuban gives you a great deal to listen for with such precision that you will find this CD parked near your CD player for weeks to come. The problem is that Caravan Cuban's grooves are so dead on that it is hard to stay in your seat and carefully listen. And who really cares?
Recently, I invited a young lady I met at Kim Wilson's housewarming to help me improve the feng shui (Chinese process of rearranging and redecorating your home for maximum benefit) of my condo. Somehow, when this CD got dropped into the AudioRevolution.com reference music and theater system and a bottle of wine was opened, I quickly ended up in a salsa dancing lesson. Cuban music has the kind of power and passion to cause you to make the transition from listening to music to actually feeling it.
There are explanations of what the lyrics mean in the liner notes, but of course all of the songs are in Spanish. For me, the lyrics didn't matter any more then they do in opera. I was glad the vocals were there, but the music conveyed the message clearly without knowing any more Spanish than I have learned at Del Taco. The CD has a strong compilation of tunes, yet I found myself most drawn to track 3, "Chucho Carabali," a cut that starts with a solo piano that sounds very layered and develops into a precise, up-tempo jam led melodically by the piano. I love the way the chord progression works itself back into its main theme. The melody dances, somewhat like Lauren - the feng shui and salsa expert - all the way back to your speakers.
Caravan Cuban is still on the highest rotation at home and is mainstay for when I have guests over. I did find Caravan Cuban to sound better on my big system (Wilson WATT Puppy v6.0's, Mark Levinson Electronics, Apogee Pro DAC, z-systems digital EQ, two Sunfire subwoofers, Transparent Reference Cables, etc.) than at the office (Evett and Shaw Elan nearfield monitors, Flatte 50 amplifier, Sunfire sub), mainly because my reference system is more capable of presenting so many performers and acoustic instruments at a higher volume output.
I consider this CD to be a must, along with Buena Vista Social Club and Afro Cuban All Stars, to start a Cuban music collection. Down with audiophile music. Here is a CD with soul, history, sonics and passion. Enjoy.