Thursday, March 17, 2016

One of My Favorite CDs: Danzas Puertorriqueñas, Rafael Hernández - Orchestra and Arrangements

Danzas Puertorriqueñas - Rafael Hernández - Orquesta y Arreglos (Disco Hit - DHCD-9173)

Songs (all instrumental):

Luz María, Dos Estrellas, Mi Estrella, Quejas del Alma, Mi Perla, Sin Ti...Jamás, Perla del Caribe, Llévame al Cine Mamá, María Lina, La Bella Margot, Máscaras Alegres, Lluvia de Perlas

Years ago, I ordered a cassette from the Isla catalog, which featured products representing Puerto Rico. Up to that point, I had a hard time finding any recordings of Puerto Rican danzas that featured an orchestra as opposed to folk instruments such as the cuatro. I liked the danza performed on the cuatro, of course, but I wanted to hear a recording that reflected the intent of danzas to be performed at formal soirée dance settings. I found a cassette of danzas by the late Puerto Rican composer Rafael Hernández in the catalog and ordered it. When I received it, I realized that I was sent a cassette that wasn't the same one showing in the catalog. Still, I put it on and to my absolute delight, I fell in love with it from the very beginning. The music and arrangements reveal their origins in what sounds like the late 1950s or early 1960s and are played with an infectious energy and a slightly faster tempo than other danzas that I had heard.

Out of all of these, the only song that is slightly lacking for me is Sin Ti...Jamás because there is, for me at least, a tension between the rhythm and the melody that doesn't feel resolved. The others are sheer delights, with Luz María, Dos Estrellas, Perla del Caribe, Llévame al Cine Mamá, and Máscaras Alegres standing out as my favorites. 

After wearing out the cassette, I had to purchase the music on CD, which of course I did not regret for one minute. This is an album that has given me hour upon hour of listening pleasure.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Overview of travels and encounters with Latin culture

Since I last posted in March 2015, it has been a whirlwind year in many respects. I am finally getting myself in a position to resume writing here. I hope to become more consistent in my writing from now on, but in between posts you can also visit my Facebook page Mike Esposito's Travel Blog or my Twitter account @meesposito for photos and quick tidbits of information.

On the Facebook page I'll also include trips that are not within the realm of Latin America and the Caribbean, and in particular those that can easily be done from my home town of Philadelphia. (I especially enjoy going to Lancaster County and visiting the Amish.) Here is a quick photo summary of trips I've made recently, along with some encounters with Latin culture closer to home.

Crafts store in Tenza, Colombia

One of the many Nativity scenes on display in Colombia

Aztec dancers at Mexican Independence Day Festival in Philadelphia

Mexican mariachi at Cinco de Mayo Festival in Kennett Square, PA

One of the many unique decorative touches you will find at Andrés Carne de Res Restaurant in Chía, Colombia