Las Cecilias de Cuba

De Que Te Quejas?

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It's hard to imagine Latin pop, Brazilian samba, or Mexican mariachi without female vocalists. But in Afro-Cuban salsa, female artists have been a minority. Though salsa has had some well-known female vocalists over the years -- Celia Cruz, Merceditas Valdés, Celeste Mendoza, Maria Teresa Vera, and Elena Burke immediately come to mind -- the vast majority of well-known salseros have been male. So it comes as a surprise to learn that Las Cecilias de Cuba is an all-female Cuban salsa band. Thankfully, the ten-member outfit isn't some well-intentioned but empty exercise in political correctness -- this is an excellent CD, and a fresh-sounding one at that. Recorded in Havana in 1997, ¿De Que Te Quejas? is melodic but swinging salsa that contains elements of Latin pop, jazz, and (on a few tunes) rap. Tracks like "Psiquiatria," "La Capital" (an ode to Havana), and "Si la Vida Se Te Da" are probably too pop influenced for Afro-Cuban purists -- Las Cecilias aren't trying to sound like a female version of La Sonora Matancera, circa 1950. But at the same time, ¿De Que Te Quejas? is edgier and more swinging than a lot of the slick salsa romantica that was huge in the 1980s and 1990s. This CD is recommended to anyone seeking something fresh-sounding and chance-taking from Afro-Cuban salsa.

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