Arthur Hanlon

La Gorda Linda

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No one will accuse pianist Arthur Hanlon of being typical of artists who have recorded for Fonovisa Records. He's Irish-American, he records a lot of instrumentals, and he's from Detroit -- not exactly typical of a company that is best known for recording regional Mexican stars like los Tigres del Norte, Banda el Recodo, and Ezequiel Peña. But Hanlon has done well at Fonovisa, and while the pianist isn't a Latino himself, he has a Latin pop orientation -- instrumental Latin pop, that is. La Gorda Linda features a few well-known vocalists here and there, including salsero Tito Nieves on the funky, boogaloo-ish title track and Mexican grupero star Ana Bárbara on the ballad "Estar a Tu Lado." But this likable CD is, for the most part, instrumental -- and the funkiness of the title track is not typical of the album on the whole. Generally a romantic artist, Hanlon favors a very lush, ethereal approach on "Marianaela" (which features Cuban jazz trumpeter Arturo Sandoval) and "Mujer Mistica" (a Hanlon original) as well as arrangements of familiar Latin songs like Agustín Lara's "Granada," Armando Manzanero's "Pero Te Extraño," and Juan Luis Guerra's "Burbujas de Amor." And that lushness isn't just found on Hanlon's slower material; it prevails even on something as up-tempo as "Morena," which combines Afro-Cuban salsa with Spanish gypsy flamenco (Havana by way of Madrid, one might say). Of course, Hanlon didn't invent the idea of tropical music as romantic mood music; there is a long history of this type of thing, ranging from Cuban bands playing boleros in the '40s and '50s to salsa romantica star Marc Anthony in the '90s and 2000s. But Hanlon has a recognizable sound of his own -- one that makes for pleasant listening on this 2005 release.

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