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Estrella Acosta: Tierra - Songs by Cuban Women


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Estrella Acosta: Tierra - Songs by Cuban Women
Cuban singer-songwriter Estrella Acosta invites us into her journey this way: "The smell of mangos and guavas brings back memories of my childhood and reminds me of the sound of Cuban country music playing on the radio. When it was time to leave my motherland, I took with me stories, poems, photos, and all the beautiful memories and love that I could pack in my heart. Now I pay tribute to the rich musical heritage of Cuban country music, and especially to the talented women who have given us the gift of their songs." Radeunda Lima, Irina González, Sara González, and Celina González are among these women.

Acosta now lives in Holland. Tierra, her sixth album, is the fruit of a Dutch "Cuban Country Queens" tour she did, which foregrounded music she heard as a youth, along with originals rooted in the same soil. Acosta's engaging voice and material are complemented by her polished ensemble, Esquina 25, with musical director Marc Bischoff at the piano, saxophonist-flutist Efraim Trujillo, bassist Samuel Ruiz, drummer Enrique Firpi, percussionist Gerardo Rosales, and coro singer Alfredo Caicedo. Arranged by Bischoff, Jesús Hernández, and Michael Simon, the songs from earlier eras are reenvisioned in a contemporary light, incorporating such hybrid rhythmic genres as merensongo, guajira-jazz, changüí-son, and guaguanco-son.

Acosta's own compositions feature Cuban and Venezuelan grooves, along with décima poetry. Décima is a ten-line form with medieval Andalusian roots frequently used in poetry battles (controversias), which has been in widespread use in Latin America and the Canaries for centuries. Acosta's knowledge of the music, including décima, is informed by her degree from the Institute of Latin American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. The album's physical disk contains her informative and well-written liner notes, including information about the songs and singers.

"Ay Amor," one of three originals on the program, is a high point. Its centerpiece is a décima Acosta wrote for her mother, in which she compares her lovingly to the most beautiful flower in the garden. An earlier version of the tune, released in 2014, was arranged and performed by her longtime musical partner Carlitos Irarragorri, a Cuban tres guitarist who also plays baby bass, maracas, and keyboards on the date. Irarragorri's arrangement integrates elements of música campesina cubana, including the distinctively resonant timbres of the tres. For Tierra, Bischoff expanded Irarragorri's arrangement to include Acosta's newly-composed décima and to match the jazz-suffused sound and instrumentation of Esquina 25, whose rhythm section includes piano, bass, and drum kit (no tres). Bischoff opens with a guaracha-son featuring tenor sax then switches to a punto guajiro with the décima and sax solo. After a modulation, the son section is reintroduced, followed by a coro-pregón and a textless eight-bar voice-sax interlude. (See YouTube of live performance, below.)

Tierra is a worthy tribute to the women singer-songwriters of the Cuban countryside whose wonderful music still rings in Acosta's ears. It is also a great introduction to the music she makes with her excellent Amsterdam-based band.

Track Listing

Mi Tierra Es Asi; Guajira; Ay Amor; Amor De Millones; Fontanar; Guasimal; Que Viva Chango.


Additional Instrumentation

Arranged by Marc Bischoff, Michael Simon, Carlitos Irarragorri and Jesús Hernández.

Album information

Title: Tierra - Songs by Cuban Women | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: eStar




Jul 5 Fri
Estrella Acosta & Esquina 25
Amersfoort, Netherlands

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