An old saying in Spanish states that ‘segundas partes nunca fueron buenas’ (second parts are never good) and you could be forgiven for thinking that the recent collaboration between Cuban pianist Chucho Valdés and flamenco singer Concha Buika is nothing but a copycat of the 2003 similar musical partnership between Bebo Valdés, Chucho’s father, and Diego ‘El Cigala’, another flamenco stalwart. However this conclusion would be misleading because ‘El Último Trago’ is an excellent album in its own right that celebrates the nonagenarian Costa Rican-born Mexican singer Chavela Vargas’s oeuvre.
The record’s twelve songs feature Buika’s powerful, heartfelt voice against the backdrop of Chucho’s solid and melodious piano. Concha is what they call in flamenco a ‘cantante larga’ (long singer), which means she can tackle any genre and still remain unique and poignant in her delivery. This is obvious in songs such as the album’s opener ‘Soledad’, the renowned ‘Cruz de Olvido’ and the title track ‘En el Último Trago’, a classic from Chavela’s repertoire. Chucho’s contribution, on the other hand, sometimes remains in the background and sometimes takes centre stage in pieces such as ‘Las Ciudades’ and ‘Se Me Hizo Fácil’. The result of this combination is a mesmerising album, which will delight jazz and flamenco enthusiasts alike.
Unfortunately the clip below features a song by Buika from a previous record and not from 'El Último Trago'. Nonetheless, you will still be able to appreciate her vocal strength and her stage persona. By the way, I love the informal setting. Ta muchly.
This post is also my 'see you later, alligator'. With the Christmas holidays upon us already I will be taking a break from blogging. The Sunday posts will only have music; I hope you'll still enjoy them. Thanks a lot to you, my dear cyber-community for your support, your comments and for welcoming me to your very own spaces. I very often feel fortunate to be exposed to such an amazing array of blogs, websites and fora. May the New Year bring you health and happiness. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!