La Pareja: The Couple

La Lupe / Tito Puente

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La Pareja: The Couple Review

by Thom Jurek

This 1978 collaboration between the legendary Tito Puente and vocalist La Lupe has a slight problem: La Lupe's performance. She's flat on most of the tracks in big spaces. There is no doubting and challenging her reputation as one of the most fiery singers Latin music has ever produced, but she's not at her best here. That said, she's still better than the loads of younger singers who try to emulate her style. Puente's band saves the day in that despite the sound problems, they can be heard as nothing less than stellar. His command over a horn section that attempts to color polyrhythmic invention and accented dance music is unparalleled. Listen to the opener, "Dile Que Venga," "Calumbo," or their version of Frank Cabrera's classic stomp "La Lloradora," and you will hear a big band in choppy harmonic bliss cutting across Latin music, jazz, and even R&B with a vengeance. Of the ballads, El Topo's gorgeous "Pobre de Mi" and Lupe's own "Amor Verdadero" are her finest performances here. This one is a miss, perhaps, but only narrowly, and clearly over half the tunes deserve at least one listen.

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