Havana Midnight

Havana Midnight

5.0 1
by Bob Neuwirth
     
 

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The title tune of Bob Neuwith's HAVANA MIDNIGHT opens a sly, understated nine-track journey that finds the veteran folk/rock/blues tunesmith pairing his weathered voice and incisive lyrics with the arrangements and melodies of Cuban composer Jose Maria Vitier. Don't expect propulsive rhythms, though; Neuwirth and Vitier find a simpatico space in the world of nueva

Overview

The title tune of Bob Neuwith's HAVANA MIDNIGHT opens a sly, understated nine-track journey that finds the veteran folk/rock/blues tunesmith pairing his weathered voice and incisive lyrics with the arrangements and melodies of Cuban composer Jose Maria Vitier. Don't expect propulsive rhythms, though; Neuwirth and Vitier find a simpatico space in the world of nueva trova, the guitar-driven music of Latin America's protest movement. The two mark the changes churning in modern-day Cuba on "Don Quixote," and evoke the bittersweet honey of remembered love in "The First Time." The tunes, recorded over a ten-day visit to Cuba on a cultural exchange grant, capture a unique dialogue between Vitier's more structured style (he's known for composing the soundtrack for the films "Strawberry and Chocolate" and the mass for the Pope's visit to the island) with Neuwirth's taste for improvisation. This Latin sojourn is just the latest stop in Neuwirth's eclectic journey, from his days in the Cambridge folk scene in the '60s, through his tenure with Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Review, to recent collaborations with John Cale and T Bone Burnett.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Ronnie D. Lankford
Bob Neuwirth is known inside the music business as Bob Dylan's associate during the mid-'60s and early '70s. He eventually began to record his own music in the early '70s, and while he has only recorded sporadically, critics have frequently sung his praises. Recorded in 1999 in Cuba, Havana Midnight beautifully documents the collaboration between Neuwirth and composer/arranger/pianist José Maria Vitier. The album's spare, atmospheric sound immediately draws the listener's attention on the title cut. Reminiscent of Terry Allen at his most mellow, an evocative combination of bongos, piano, and tabla lays down the ideal base for Neuwirth's relaxed vocals. Both "The First Time" and "Dead Man's Clothes" follow the opening cut in a calm, peaceful procession that quietly introduces themes of desire, lost dreams, and regret. As a whole, Havana Midnight unfolds like a soul's journey in a strange land, both dark and beautiful. Lyrically, "Don Quixote" and "The Call" run deeper than the typical singer/songwriter fare, as if painted on a timeless canvas. The overall approach, musically, vocally, and lyrically, is low-key, as though a poet were whispering a desperate story to himself or herself late at night. The arrangements are an epitome of taste, and include such subtle touches as rain in the background at the beginning of "Havana Farewell." Pianist Vitier and guitarist Rey Guerra add lovely fills to a number of cuts, deftly enhancing these proceedings. If fortune shines on the dark world of Bob Neuwirth, this recording will spread his good name and inspire listeners to seek out his older material.

Product Details

Release Date:
05/22/2001
Label:
Appleseed Records
UPC:
0611587105127
catalogNumber:
1051

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Havana Midnight 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you liked Buena Vista Social Club, this record should interest you. Bob is a wonderful songwriter who hasn't had that much visibility. This project took him to Cuba to record with Cuban musicians. It's a great mix of folk and Cuban rhythms.