Gaby Gabriel is best known as the long-time leader of the house orchestra at the Fontainebleau Hilton's Club Tropigala on Miami Beach. The exuberant Cuba-born singer/percussionist has developed a musical repertoire to match the diversity of his audiences, which range from Latin-American tourists to sunbirds and celebrities. But Gabriel hasn't done much recording. Until last year, when Miami's powerhouse car dealer Gus Machado offered to sponsor sessions at Hialeah's Sound Booth Recording Studio. Gabriel gathered some of the best singers and players he knows, many recently arrived from Cuba. (He is constantly besieged with calls from musicians all over the world looking to break into Miami's music scene.) Con Alma y Vida was in production most of 1999 and released in January 2000. It sounds great, a mix of original and established songs and Puerto Rican and Cuban styles. Gabriel's duet with Cubana Ilumin de Leon on José Luis Perales's "Una Locura" is beautiful. The CD was a big hit on the Internet music site mp3.com; one cut, "Cafe con Leche," stayed on the Top 10 for weeks and now is in the Top 30. Makes us wonder why the local salsa stations won't play it.
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