Eliades Ochoa: Guajira + Guajira

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A CD review by TJ Nelson for World Music Central.

Eliades Ochoa and Alma Latina – Guajira Mas Guajira (Tumi Music, 2016)

Buena Vista Social Club member, guitarist and singer Eliades Ochoa says, “Cuban music has a certain feel, that sway, that harmony. “It can get right to the heart and the soul, no matter who you are.”

Isn’t that the barest truth! And, for Cuban music fans the ripe riches are set to hit the streets May 2nd with the Tumi Music release of Guajira Mas Guajira. Teaming up the band Alma Latina and his sister, vocalist and collaborator Maria, Mr. Ochoa and bandmates delve into the country music of Cuba or música guajira. Of course Ms. Ochoa isn’t just a sister but comes with a prestigious musical background of her own playing with the likes of Ruben Gonzales, Sonera Edition, Tierra Caliente, Caribe Typical and El Grupo Achala, as well as touring with Omara Portuondo, Ibrahim Ferrer and her brother.

Packed with dizzying array of guitars, sassy percussion, piano, congas, bongos, trumpet and saxophone, Guajira Mas Guajira will have Cuban music fans jumping up and down like a kid hopped up on Christmas, birthday cake and a passel of puppies.

Mr. Ochoa says of Guajira Mas Guajira, “Together with Buena Vista Social Club, this album is one the most important and interesting recordings of my life. “Alma Latina is an inspiration and an expression of art, music, painting and dance. It is a call to bring harmony and love through music to all human beings and Latin brothers. And it’s about the dance,” an element that runs through every charming track on the album.

Guajira Mas Guajira goes beyond the standard Buena Vista Social Club fair with sleek, often sizzling, guitar licks, charmed intimate vocals and a breezy Caribbean flair. Opening with the delicious “Brisa Mananera” with vocals by brother and sister, Guajira Mas Guajira proves swoon-worthy.

Moving through tracks like “Que Sigan Sonanando Las Campanas” with some lovely vocals by Mr. Ochoa, the raucously delightful “El Punto Cubano” and spirited “Me Voy Para Monte,” Cuban music fans get a real feel for the unrestrained joy of the guajira.

There’s also the smoothly sultry “Tu Aliento Me Hace Falta,” the infectiously jubilant “El Quichi Quicha” and delightful instrumental “Te Sigo Amando” to enthrall fans.

Mr. Ochoa notes, “No matter where Cuban music goes, it touches people.”

I have no doubt that where Guajira Mas Guajira goes it will charm Cuban music fans.

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