It's not that Chucho Vald‚s' Virtuoso fails to dazzle -- this is the same swift-fingered Vald‚s who plunked and pounded so appealingly alongside Buena Vista Social Club, after all -- but it does take a couple of weird turns. The first several tracks land on unsuspecting ears like lullabies, the trouble there being not that they're overly gentle or soporific but that they lack a signature Cuban sound; skill goes on display at the expense of flavor. Later, when Vald‚s does let it rip alongside a more traditional, Buena Vista-style band, he is occasionally drowned out by the wailings of an overly emphasized jazz vocalist. But between these frustrations a cluster of rum-soaked winners spike through. Tuning way into "Sentimental" is like hitching a tear-stained ride to old Havana, and the weather-beaten charm of "El Manisero" couldn't be more distinctively, winningly Chucho-derived. ~ Tammy La Gorce
38444NChucho Valdes - Virtuoso (CD)http://oldies.scdn5.secure.raxcdn.com/i/boxart/large/65/617465651823.jpg?v=312.9811.68USDOutOfStockLa EscondidaCDLatin-MusicChucho-Valdes2009-02-16
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