La Sonora Ponceña

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The third LP by the modernized Sonora Ponceña (after second-generation director Papo Lucca took over the band) had a lot to live up to, following a pair of salsa classics (Hacheros Pa' un Palo and Fuego en el 23). Nevertheless, the same cast returned as talented as ever, anchored by Lucca himself (responsible for the arrangements, direction, and piano) as well as vocal heavyweights Yayo el Indio and Adalberto Santiago leading the chorus -- and don't forget Larry Harlow in the producer's chair. The range of material is broad, kicking off with the brassy "Acere Ko," but also incorporating a meditative bolero ("Cenizas") and the centerpiece "Yemaya," an epic -- even at only four minutes long -- that seems to encompass a suite of at least three different songs.

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