By the early 1950s, Cuban singer Abelardo Barroso's career had already fallen by the wayside and the former celebrity could often be found busking in the streets outside of Havana's nightclubs. Throughout the '20s and '30s, the talented Barroso had established himself as a household name fronting a number of leading bands like Sexteto Habanero, Sexteto Universo, and Sexteto Pinin during the first big wave of son music. In 1955, a chance meeting with Rolando Valdés, director of the newly established Orquesta Sensación, led to an extremely fruitful second phase in the down-and-out singer's career. Considered the golden age of Cuban music, the pre-revolutionary mid-'50s in Havana was a hotbed for fiery Latin dance music and the cha cha cha was the latest craze. This wonderful collection from the World Circuit label (Buena Vista Social Club) documents the inspired collaborations between Barroso and Orquesta Sensación that ignited his rags-to-riches comeback and yielded some of his greatest work. Melding flutes and violins with a unique and dynamic rhythm section, the Orquesta provided a colorful and fresh new backdrop to Barroso's passionate and distinctive voice. Remastered here for the first time, these enduring tracks sound both relevant and timeless.
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AllMusic Review by Timothy Monger