Based in Santiago instead of the relatively urbane Havana, the loose musicians collective Club Musical Oriente Cuba emphasized the traditional roots of the Cuban song for their debut, Caña, Tabaco y Ron. On the first three tracks, the group -- over two dozen strong -- focuses on material by Cuban legends including Sexteto Habañero, Beny Moré, Ñico Saquito, and Armando Oréfiche but overcomes any debt to the past with lively playing and a few degrees of latitude from the originals. Later in the album, the collective stretch out with bracing new compositions (most are tributes to figures from the past) and a hilarious cha cha cha dismissing rock & roll (originally a Saquito song). All the hallmarks of Cuban music -- close harmony singing, plangent guitar work, a laid-back rural swing -- are played to perfection on this excellent recording.
AllMusic Review by John Bush