Fito Páez

No Se Si Es Baires o Madrid

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Fito Páez's output of the 2000s never quite matched the simply brilliant standards he had set in the '80s and much of the '90s. Perhaps as a consequence, the latest albums of the great Argentine songwriter are often revisions or reflections on his life and career, from the introspective Rodolfo to No Se Si Es Baires o Madrid, his second live album in four years and third altogether. A thoroughly accomplished musician and arranger, Páez's rethinking of his own work is always worthy of attention. After giving his compositions the symphonic treatment with Euforia and Moda y Pueblo, and the full- band treatment with Mi Vida con Ellas, for No Se Si Es Baires o Madrid, Páez opts for an intimate, dualistic approach. On the one hand, this April 2008 Madrid concert finds Páez alone on-stage with his piano; on the other, at least half the selections are duets with Spanish and Cuban artists. Still, since most of his guests contribute only vocals or an understated accompaniment (acoustic guitar, percussion, etc.), this recording effectively constitutes an evening with Fito, his piano, his (Madrid) friends, and his songs. Páez is clearly in excellent form and spirits throughout, as he revisits his entire discography, from 1983's "La Rumba del Piano" to 2007's "El Cuarto de al Lado," albeit with a heavy emphasis on his mega-seller, 1992's El Amor Despues del Amor. His singing (typically the Achilles heel of this otherwise multi-talented artist) is just fine, and -- most importantly -- the acoustic format showcases his piano arrangements and playing. Páez's ever creative and intriguing readings of his classics keeps things interesting, while his guests compound the emotional effect of the performance. In this respect, highlights include his public reconciliation with Joaquín Sabina in a version of the latter's "Contigo" (the pair had a notorious falling out during the recording of their 1998 joint album), as well as the treat of the ever formidable Pablo Milanés singing "Yo Vengo a Ofrecer mi Corazón.". Other artists include Tijeritas, Pereza, Ariel Rot, Mavi Díaz, Gala Évora, and Marlango.

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