by Plena Libre


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It may be called “Evolution,” but the 11th disc from Gary Nuñez’s Plena Libre has more to do with intelligent design. From the beginning, this group rooted in Puerto Rico’s African traditions has aimed higher than most folkloric ensembles, incorporating jazz- and salsa-caliber arrangements into their repertoire. But Evolución is a great leap forward in many ways. Contrasting with its predecessor, Estamos gozando!, a shinier effort that called to mind the hyped-up sound of PR salsa, this one is darker and heavier, with trombones out front and duskier chording from new pianist Pedro Bermúdez. Bari sax courtesy of Roberto Calderón gives these compositions a measure of dirt and grit as well. Add to the sonics some of Nuñez’s most elaborate arrangements -- including a samba break in “Como Son Las Cosas,” starting and stopping “Mi Plena Es Libre” on a dime -- and it’s apparent that he takes the title of this disc seriously. All that change doesn’t come without a price, of course; the electric guitars and 4/4 thud of “Tumbaó” might work in a dance hall, but for some reason they come off lifelessly on disc. It’s only a brief pit stop on an album that also includes appearances by two legends of Puerto Rican music, Angel Torruellas and Andrés Jiménez. Torruellas, a 70-something practitioner of plena, reprises his classic “Yenyeré” and contributes two songs especially written for Plena Libre, while Jiménez, a veteran of jíbaro music, shows off his chops on trés for a Puerto Rican country music hoedown. If evolution truly is survival of the fittest, these two old-timers -- and Plena Libre itself -- have nothing to fear.

Product Details

Release Date: 10/04/2005
Label: Times Square Records
UPC: 0738572904821
catalogNumber: 9048
Rank: 225719

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Plena Libre   Primary Artist
Josue Rosado   Choir, Chorus,Guest Appearance
Jorge Diaz   Trombone,Guest Appearance
Machi Rodriguez   spanish guitar,Guest Appearance
Gadwin Vargas   Conga,Choir, Chorus
Angel Luis Torruellas   Guest Appearance
Gary Nuñez   Bass,Choir, Chorus,Musical Direction
Juan Castillo   Accordion,Guest Appearance
Carlos "Kalie" Villanueva   Vocals
Andrés Jiménez   Guest Appearance
César Ayala   Trombone
Moises Cancel   Trombone
Quique Domenech   Guest Appearance

Technical Credits

Papo Sanchez   Engineer
Angelo Torres   Engineer
Angel Luis Torruellas   Composer
Gary Nuñez   Arranger,Producer,Liner Notes,Artistic Director
Nili Belkind   Producer

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