Esther Borja


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Esther Borja was never a pure salsera á la Celia Cruz or Elena Burke; rather, her style was a fascinating blend of Cuban and Euro-classical elements. The singer's uniqueness is hard to miss on Longina, a collection of her classic work with the great Cuban pianist Luis Carbonell. When the passionate, big-voiced Borja brings her impressive range to Manuel Corona's "Longina," José Marín Varona's "La Hija de Oriente," and Ernesto Lecuona's beautiful "Noche Azul," it's abundantly clear that she is in love with both the Cuban ballad tradition and European classical singing. Those who understand Spanish will appreciate Enrique Romero's insightful liner notes -- he has no problem articulating why Borja was such a major talent. What is frustrating about this release is Musica del Sol's failure to provide any recording dates -- even if the label didn't have exact dates, it could have at least given the years in which these recordings were made. While Longina isn't the ideal Borja anthology, it's an album full of five-star material, worth picking up if you find yourself in a store that sells a lot of Latin music.

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