Rubén Blades


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All credit goes to Rubén Blades. He sees music as a global thing, and working from his established base of salsa, he's made some very credible connections between musics of the world, never more so than on Mundo, where Latin rhythms meet bagpipes and didgeridoos, Africa comes to Cuba, and the lilt of strings can develop into a percussion fest. In many ways, his singing -- although it's the glue that holds everything together -- is the least-important element; the joy is in the sheer diversity, as on "Primogenio," where the pipes work beautifully, or the most unusual version of "Danny Boy" ever recorded. But it's also there on "El Capitan y la Sirena," where the earthy tones of a didgeridoo underpin Latin accordion and rhythms, and in the airy, jazzy "Consideracion." Blades has always been adventurous, a real artist, but this is mature and considered, never brash or in-your-face. It makes sense and works, even when, on paper, it probably shouldn't. It's one world, and in his music Blades is attempting to bring it together.

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