Rubén Blades

Una Década

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If you've never seen a group of salsa musicians halt mid-conversation, mention Rubén Blades. His name is sure to be followed by a pause, wide eyes, and nods of recognition and respect. To try and compile work that spans a decade of any artist as widely respected and revered as Sr. Blades would prove daunting, but Una Década manages to meet and exceed expectation. Beginning with "Caminando" and "Amor y Control," tunes so melodically and rhythmically infectious that even non-Spanish speakers will find themselves singing the coro, it's easy to see how Rubén became a cornerstone of the New York salsa sound. As Blades' career progressed, so did his interest in a more diverse palette of Latin American musical styles, as shown by the second half of this record. With a slinky and evocative cumbia, like "Eres Mi Canción," to a dark and profound rhumba, "Estampa," the common thread throughout is the brilliant musicianship and lyrical excellence that has always set Blades apart from his fellow salseros. The story that you hear from this record is Blades' journey from a fiery, visceral young talent to a sophisticated and masterful musician's musician. From the incisive political nature of his writing to the crystalline arrangements and production, this is one decade in the history of salsa that ensures Blades' place for decades to come.

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