The Bachata Legends is the end result of a series of New York studio recording sessions on the 2008 American tour of the musicians who made this music a popular staple in the Dominican Republic. These men -- Edilio Paredes, Ramon Cordero, Augusto Santos, Ramon Isidro Cabrera ("El Chivo Sin Ley"), and Leonardo Paniagua -- brought the musical style from the ghettos into the societal mainstream of their native country. This set is historic because it marks the very first time these individuals had been able to record in a state-of-the-art studio with proper production, mixing, and mastering. Many of these songs had been cut in the 1980s and were featured in their original versions on the 2007 compilation Bachata Roja: Acoustic Bachatas from the Cabaret Era on iASO Records. The modern studio and a band of fellow Dominicans bring to bear the audacious talent of the participants in not only re-creating these songs, but reinterpreting them as well. Guitarist Paredes is as startling in his dexterity as he is in his creativity. Check his playing on "Chacki Chacki," by El Chivo Sin Ley, where his lightning runs are equaled only by his sense of time and rhythmic invention. Paniagua's passionately tragic romantic delivery on "En un Cuarto Dos Amantes" is tinged with a heartbreaking graininess as he exchanges lines with the three requinto (guitar) players, Paredes, Santos, and Joan Soriano. Speaking of Santos, his "Con el Amor No Se Juega," with its complex rhythmic strategy, is a true set highlight. The sprightly guitar grooves and guira and bongo interplay on "Siente Ahi," by Cordero, is in a singular space here as well, as the sprightly music is belied by an aching lyric whose meaning is completely embodied in the grain of his voice. It is not enough that The Bachata Legends is beautifully recorded; it is gorgeously performed too, offering proof that 30 years have done nothing to diminish the power and creativity of these great musicians.
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek