Wednesday 23 December 2009

'El Último Trago' (Review)

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!

Copyright 2009


  1. Have yourself a beautiful holiday season, Cuban. It has been a pleasure to meet and visit you. I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year, and best wishes for your family as well. Take care and I'll see you soon!


  2. Oh I so love everything "spanish" (is that an appropriate description?). Culture, architecture, language, music.

    Thank you for sharing and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you.

  3. It's years since I smoked, but when I did, I never could master the art of playing with a lit cigarette in my mouth. I'm always impressed by those who can!

    Thanks - I'll be looking out for the name Buika from now on.

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

  4. Mr Cuban :) - what should I call you?

    I hope when you get a chance please revisit the slideshow I just re-edit. If you ever get the chance to visit Malaysia again, please do let me know.

  5. Merry Christmas to you, dear Mr. Cuban in London. I have so enjoyed meeting you and reading your inspiring, informed posts!

  6. Wishing you a beautiful holiday, Mr. Cuban! (You know I'm loving your header photo.)


  7. Cuban,
    ti auguro un buon natale a te e alla tua famiglia.

    Un saluto per voi da Colonia,

  8. Many thanks for your kind words. I'm having a very relaxing time. And that Buika CD has not left my stereo these days. I can't recommend it enough.

    Greetings from London.

  9. Cuban,
    Feliz Navidad!
    te desea nuestra Pandilla. ;)

  10. Intereting review, thanks for it, I will bear that in mind things I like several of the people you mention here.
    But mainly I wanted to wish you a Merry Chrismass my cuban friend

  11. The day cannot pass without me wishing you a Merry Christmas Cuban.

    Love Renee xoxo

  12. Hope you have a wonderful holiday season, Cuban and that 2010 is filled with all and only the very best of everything for you!

  13. Hey Cuban - what a coincidence as I saw Buika perform this concert live just before I came away for Xmas - she perforemed at the University Concert Hall in Mexico City and it was a wonderful concert - the cuban pianist who accompanied her was amazing.... Greetings from Costa Rica and Happy New Year

  14. Hi CIL - Oh, I'm inlove with her voice!
    Deep, rich full of emotion. Too bad this
    guy is blowing smoke into her lungs,though.

  15. Many thanks for your kind comments.

    Greetings from London.

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