Manolito Simonet had already experienced quite a bit of success before starting the landmark group Manolito y Su Trabuco. As the musical director for Maravilla de Florida, a longstanding and very successful group, Manolito could probably have ridden that wave for a long time and been respected for it. However, seeking to distinguish himself further, Manolito set forth to form a group that would come to be known as one of the very first outfits to play a new style known as timba. 1993, when the group was officially formed, was very early on in the style's development, and so Manolito became quite influential in forming what would become standard timba practices. It's quite evident on the group's debut release Directo al Corazon, released two years after the group's formation, that their leader and keyboard/pianist Manolito is and was one of Cuban music's unsung heroes. Though none of the instrumental performances stand out as virtuosic, that band's groove and swing are impeccable. The arrangements and compositions are top shelf, both melodically and rhythmically captivating. Also evident, thanks to a handful of live cuts, is the band's popular credibility, as they perform for gigantic and adoring audiences. Directo al Corazon is even sonically quite pleasing in a genre that often lacks the studio budget to do them justice. A fantastic record.
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AllMusic Review by Evan C. Gutierrez