Arte Mixto

Virginia de Cuba

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AllMusic Review by Kurt Keefner

Arte Mixto plays Cuban music with distinction. Feeling perhaps that Latin and Caribbean music has been feeding upon itself too much, violinist and musical director Alexis Correa makes use of a more Spanish style of guitar playing which is quite noticeable, and allegedly a more African style of percussion, which can barely be discerned. The flamenco-influenced style comes to the fore in the title song; it sounds like a traditional but it is not. Written by Correa in honor of his deceased mother, it even has the "O Ley, O Ley" chorus of modern flamenco. One genuine standard that does show up is Compay Segundo's "El Chan Chan" from Buena Vista Social Club, given a hot and jazzy treatment here. Like several (but not all) of the tracks, it features the distinctive violin of the group's leader. The violin is used in Cuban popular music of course, but Correa plays in a "squeezed" style reminiscent of the late, great Cape Verdean master Antoninho Travadinha. This is good, because a little vinegar is useful in off-setting the excessive honey of some of the vocals, which alternate between various male and female soloists and choruses, and which most American listeners would identify with the Fifth Dimension as much as Latin music. Virginia de Cuba is an entertaining mix of influences.

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