Haila's path to her first solo record has been long and auspicious. Including membership in the highly respected Bamboleo and Leonel Limonta y Azucar Negra and guest appearances with artists such as Issac Delgado and David Calzado, to name a few, Haila seems to have performed with more modern Cuban music greats than not. Tributo a Celia Cruz features some of Cruz's big hits alongside some lesser-known selections, all under the expert musical direction of timba godfather Issac Delgado. Even the overdone standards have been given a facelift, like salsa theme "Químbara," featuring Los Muñequitos de Matanzas and done in a sultry, subtle rhumba-jazz style, or "Usted Abusó," done with a modern songo feel. Consistently more complex and intricate than the original recordings, Haila's timba roots are obvious, adding interest and texture to otherwise over-recorded material. Haila herself has never sounded better. Her work with Azucar Negra seems to have been a poor representation of her abilities and potential. Her hallmark brassy vocal quality remains the same, but her control over her voice and improvisational ability have gone from sounding unimpressive in her Limonta collaborations to staggering. There are as many differences as similarities between the two, but Haila's stylistic approach and inflection are more akin to the late Cruz than perhaps any other female salsa vocalist today. Though there have been more than a few tributes to the Queen of Salsa, there are few as qualified as this fellow Negrita Cubana.
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AllMusic Review by Evan C. Gutierrez
feat: Mayito Rivera