Primavera en Nueva York

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Spanish singer Martirio presents a musical story of being madly in love, losing that love, being dumped, experiencing sorrow and regret, and discovering love again. The tracks in order chronicle that roller coaster ride of emotions -- if you understand Spanish. If not, the tracks can be appreciated for their individual beauty and passion. Martirio's expressionism is dramatic but not overt, subtle but not lame, sentimental but not sappy. Her voice is crystal clear and clean. Stylistically this recording leans more on jazz than bolero or tango, due to the rhapsodic piano playing of Kenny Drew, Jr., the deft bass playing of George Mraz, and rising star drummer Dafnis Prieto, heard throughout. There are two cameos apiece from guitarist Edgardo Miranda, clarinetist Paquito D'Rivera or tenor saxophonist Houston Person, and a lone flugelhorn solo from Claudio Roditi. The bulk of the compositions are ballads, save the hopeful mid-tempo waltz "Alma Libre" with Person and the spirited waltz "Mi Ayer." It's difficult to choose superior quality between any of the beautiful songs included, each piece stands alone yet works together one after another to tell the complete tale. There's an atypical light bossa feel for "No Puedo Callar," slow and sweet surrendering blues on "Primera Lluvia," a "what do I care" repeated refrain during "Que Me Importa?," the awaiting bittersweet vocal/bass duet "Si Te Contara," and the victorious finale "Me Faltabas Tu," the lone vocal/piano duo. A variety of Spanish songwriters contribute the material, selected immaculately by the singer and producers Nat Chediak and Fernando Trueba. This is Martirio's best effort so far, and comes highly recommended, both as great listening and an important lesson in life.

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