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Bebo Valdes & Diego el Cigala: Blanco Y Negro

Mark Corroto By

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Bebo Valdes & Diego el Cigala

Blanco Y Negro
Bluebird
2005

I may fall out of favor with my fellow Americans expressing admiration for cultures much older and well, certainly more developed then ours. You disagree? Did you catch more then five minutes of the latest addition of the Grammy Awards? What passes for 'art' or more importantly what sells millions of copies is slightly more challenging than potty training.

OK, all you MTV fans set aside your bitches, gold necklaces, Lamborginis, and lip synching for a moment. We are going to take a trip into the mature world, one that lies outside the insular oceans that protect your ears from adult emotion and experience.

The Academy Award winning Spanish film director Fernando Trueba (Belle Epoque and Calle 54) arranged for the exiled Cuban pianist Ramon 'Bebo' Valdes and Spanish flamenco singer Diego 'El Cigala' Salazar to collaborate on a cross-cultural recording. The double platinum Lágrimas Negras (Black Tears) won 5 Spanish and 2 Latin Grammys. The recording, with a guest appearance by saxophonist Paquito D'Rivera, draws from the music of Cuba, Spain, Central and South America.

The director has assembled the musicians once again for Blanco Y Negro: Bebo & Cigala En Vivo (Black & White: Bebo & Cigala Live) a live concert filmed in Mallorca Spain. With 5.1 Dolby Digital sound and English (or French) subtitles, the experience is enhanced and the emotion of the music is given priority.

The 19 tracks include all the music from Lágrimas Negras plus much more. Bebo Valdes, the Sweden-based pianist was the house bandleader in the pre-Castro Tropicana Nightclub. His playing carries with it the Havana mambo mixed with Gershwin's New York. At 85 years young he might just be the Cuban Hank Jones.

The Music of the Americas that Valdes expresses through his piano doesn't seem, on paper, to match with the guitar-led music of Cigala's flamenco. Even the 50 years difference in age stands in their way! But beauty is in the new flavors and textures that are created when these cultures collide. Cigala, whose ancient Roma gypsy flamenco art, resembles a young Tom Waits as a storyteller. You cannot be anything but stirred by his gritty emotional singing.

Director Fernando Trueba skillfully finesses the light and dark aspects of this black & white film to focus on the intimacy of the concert. Using multiple cameras, in seemingly constant motion, the filmmaker catches the nimble fingers of Bebo, bassist Javier Colina, and percussionist Israel Porrina, as well as their silent communication of nods, smiling glances or encouragement. The music expresses love, desire, and the pride of hundreds of years of flamenco crooning. Trueba brings the amazing music of Bebo and Cigala to life by directing your attention to the minutia of this very acoustic music. The feel of two hands clapping (and sometimes silently clapping) is just as important to the rhythm as the percussion of the flamenco drum box of Porrina.

The 80-minute concert DVD also includes a second disc that documents the meeting of Bebo and Cigala in 2000 to record the Grammy winning Lágrimas Negras. This behind-the- scenes footage documents the recording of the CD and interviews with the players.

Musicians: Bebo Valdes " Piano; Diego el Cigala " Vocals; Javier Colina - Bass; Nino Josele - Guitar; Israel Porrina - Cajón.

Track Listing: Hubo Un Lugar: Cuba Linda; Involvidable; Se Me Olvidó Que Te Olvidé; Veinte Años ; La Fuente de Bebo; Niebla del Riachuelo; Corasón Loco ; Lágrimas Negras ; La Caridad/Contradanza ; Americana: Un Americano In Paris/Willow Weep for Me/Concert en C; Amar y Vivir ; Señor del Aire; Vete de M-; La Bien Pagá; Suspiros de España; Eu Sei Que Vou Te Amar; Tu Sonrisa/Contradanza; Obsesión; En Aranjuez Con Tu Amor-De la Mano del Viento.

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