Xiomara Laugart - Tears and Rumba (2015) High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 24bit/192kHz
Artist: Xiomara Laugart
Title: Tears and Rumba
Genre: Jazz, Latin, Folk, World, Bolero, Trova, Rumba, Afro-Cuban
Label: © Chesky Records
Release Date: 2015
Quality: High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 192kHz/24bit
Recorded: January 31 st 2014 at The Hirsch Center for Performing Arts, Brooklyn, New York
For singers, recording a collection of classic tunes can be viewed as a rite of passage. These classics after all have helped define a generation. Jazz vocalists face this when they interpret the songs of Cole Porter and George Gershwin, along with many others that make up the great American Song Book. Cuban music has a significant canon as well. Songs which are not just memorable to Cubans, but well known favorites that resonate throughout Latin America.
On her new record, her third for Chesky Records, Xiomara Laugart steps up to the plate with her own distinctive style to interpret some Cuban classics from the golden era of the 1920s.“
People are familiar with Cuban rhythms, but they don’t know the songs or the composers,” said Laugart, who came to New York City in 1998 from Havana. “That’s what I wanted to do, introduce these songs to a new generation.”
Lagrimas y Rumba is a fine introduction to the singer-songwriter’s driven trova style from the city of Santiago and features works by two extremely influential composers of that era, Maria Teresa Vera and Miguel Matamoros. Laugart grew up listening and singing these tunes with her father, who encouraged her to sing starting at the age of five. “We heard these songs on the radio and everybody listened to the radio then,” she said of her Havana childhood.
As the title of the record suggests, the songs that Laugart interprets so elegantly range from the moody trova style standards like Vera’s “Ausencia” to the danceable son montuno of Matamoros’ “La Mujer de Antonio.” The heart wrenching lyrics of “Ausencia” speak about a love that will never be. Mixed with Yunior Terry’s stirring acoustic bass, they will have you sobbing in your mojito. But not to worry, Laugart, who has been influenced by Chaka Khan as much as by Vera and Matamoros, will have everyone packing the dance floor in a New York minute with her swinging versions of “La Mujer de Antonio” and “Nadie Se Salva de la Rumba,” made popular again during the 1980s by Celia Cruz.
Laugart excels at navigating shifts in style and mood thanks to a quintet of excellent musicians who are part of a new generation from Cuba that continues to flow into New York City. Terry provides the anchor giving the small band a big sound. Throughout the record, the melodies by guitarist Roman Lajara and flautist Javier Porta create a layer of sound joining Terry in creating the perfect intimate setting for Laugart’s nuanced phrasing. The Venezuelan Luis Quintero is the veteran of the group having played with everyone from Eddie Palmieri to Diana Krall. Gerardo Contino provided backup vocals and one of the youngsters of the group, Axel Tosca Laugart, the singer’s son, was responsible for the new arrangements.
Laugart’s fans from her days leading the Grammy nominated band Yerba Buena, the raucous ensemble that experimented with all kinds of urban Latin America rhythms, might be surprised by her approach here, but this is roots music. This is Xiomara Laugart unplugged. The closer you listen, the more you’ll appreciate the nuances. Her subtle phrasing weaves around the melodies and highly poetic lyrics. The country flavor of Lajara’s guitar is intensely expressive with the rustic sound of Quintero’s percussion and the culture that it all comes from. Lagrimas y Rumba will have them crying and dancing all night long, well into the morning at clubs like Hoy Como Ayer in the heart of Miami’s Little Havana where Xiomara performs regularly. That too is a serious rite of passage, one that she has already overcome and this album is her next. —Alfredo Alvarado
Despite over fifty years of political turmoil leading to a ludicrous embargo, the music of Cuba has thrived and is as vibrant as ever. Though many premier Cuban artists have gone into cultural exile in America and abroad, they continue to seek inspiration from and expand upon the music of their homeland, continually performing it around the globe. Vocalist Xiomara Laugart is a prime example of this diaspora, and on Tears and Rumba, she revisits the music of Cuba's romantic golden era of the 1920's and 1930's. She specifically chose the enduring compositions of Miguel Matamoros and Maria Teresa Vera for this project. This music would go on to have a major influence on popular music throughout Latin America—due to the proliferation of radio—and eventually seeped into the big bands of the United States catering to the burgeoning Latin dance market of the 1950's.
A native Guantanamera, Laugart draws from the deep well of knowledge and experience she acquired from her formative years, when she gained national recognition as an expressive interpreter of songs from the nueva trova movement, as well as the classic guajiras, sons and rumbas strongly associated with the country. Xiomara Laugart is the preeminent Cuban songstress of her generation, with scores of albums released before her exile. Any comparison to the legendary Celia Cruz is warranted and inevitable, as she covered Cruz's songs in a successful Broadway production for which she received critical acclaim. But her voice is amply dissimilar, sultrier with an underlying sensual tone.
On this recording, the light finger plucking of the guitar by Román Lajara over the syncopated bass of Yunior Terry are the minimal melody accompaniment, save for the occasional use of flutist Javier Porta on several tracks. Laugart's son Alex Tosca is in charge of the vital clave on which the rhythm swings and sways, accentuated by the discerning congas of Luis Quintero.
It is in the rumba numbers as "Sabor Una Tumba Una Rumba," "Nadie Se Salva de la Rumba," and the classic son montuno "La Mujer de Antonio," where Laugart displays her talent as a natural born rumbera. This is a distinct style of soulful, rhythmic, Afro-Cuban singing that you either have it or you don't. No middle ground here. Her work on the intimate boleros as "Veinte Años," is vintage vocalizing at its best, this song is dedicated to her father who taught her the song as a child.
Laugart is extremely comfortable singing trova music which was is based around a vocal and guitar arrangement, with soft percussion, exactly what is presented here. She paid her dues on this genre and she goes back to her roots with songs like "Las Perlas de tu Boca," "Y Tu Que Haz Hecho," and "Ausencia." These songs are just as romantic as the boleros, but the beat is slightly enhanced, somewhat resembling the danzon, which permeates much of Cuban music.
Tears and Rumba is a passionate vocal production stripped down to the bare bones, relying solely on Xiomara Laugart's instinctive ability to interpret the songs with the required authenticity and sentiment. She does not disappoint. —James Nadal, All About Jazz
1 Las Perlas 04:22
2 Sabor Una Tumba 04:41
3 Sitieria 05:22
4 Viente Anos 04:11
5 Nadie Se Salva 03:57
6 Reclamo Mistico 03:06
7 Juramento 04:15
8 La Mujer De Antonio 03:42
9 Y Tu Que Haz Hecho 03:54
10 Ausencia 04:18
11 Descarga Xiomara 04:44
12 Reclamo Mistico (Alternate) 03:22
Xiomara Laugart: lead vocals
Axel Tosca Laugart: vocals, clave
Román Lajara: guitar, tres
Luis Quintero: congas, percussion
Yunior Terry: bass
Javier Porta: flute, vocals
Gerardo Contino: vocals
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