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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Kiki Valera

Vivencias En Clave Cubana

Review by Gary Hill

If you are familiar with Latin party music, you'll have a good idea what this sounds like. Here's the thing. That type of music is generally a lot of fun, and this is a classic example. I used to speak Spanish pretty well, but time has not been kind, so, while I can still read it pretty well, I'm often lost listening to people speak. So, I only understood a fraction of the lyrics. Even so, I still really enjoyed this set. That's how strong it is. Kiki Valera plays something called a "cuatro." It's a Cuban eight-string guitar. So, you won't be surprised to find that guitar features prominently on this album.

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Track by Track Review
Mi Son
The intricate guitar that opens this is so classy. The tune launches out with a great groove and a lot of style. The acoustic guitar solo on this is on fire, and I love the horn arrangement.
El Caballo de Curingo
Another energized Latin tune, this is every bit as fun as the previous one. While not a big change, it has its own flavor.
El Perro de Juan
There is a real jazz vibe to this. It's another winner.
I like the vocal arrangement on this quite a bit. The party continues here and takes on some new dimensions.
Se Quema la Chumbamba
The guitar sound that opens this is great. The tune has a great dance groove. The horns really paint some great sonic images along the road.
The vocals on this cut convey a lot of emotion and the arrangement has a lot of jazz built into it. I love the extensive guitar feature section of this cut.
Dejame al Menos
This is a charming piece that has even more evocative textures. The guitar solo sings.
Homenaje a Panchita
I love the swinging groove to this number. It's another entertaining slab of traditional Latin music.
Para Continuar
A more stripped back arrangement is on hand here. The cut has a smooth groove.
El Sinsonte
The guitar really drives this number. You can't overlook the percussion, though. The traditional Latin concepts on this song are classic.
I love the great Latin vibe and melodies on this tune.
Berenjena y Quimbombo
The horns bring magic, and the tune really grooves.
Mi Son (Radio Edit)
The closer is a shorter version of the opening track. I prefer the full-length version, but this works, too.
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