By Kat Bein
By Shea Serrano
By S. Pajot
By Terrence McCoy
By Falyn Freyman
By Shea Serrano
By Jacob Katel
By Michael E. Miller
In addition to Carlos's guitar accompaniment and the voices of the duo, the CD features Ulises del Toro on tres, a Cuban derivative of the guitar, Nelson "El Flaco" Padron on general percussion, and Onel Mulet on a surprisingly melodious tenor and alto saxophones. The absence of a bass will lead many listeners to expect the recording to have a noticeable weakness in the lower registers. Not at all. Gomez's guitar style is so comprehensive that there is never a moment of dynamic deficiency or imbalance.
Trova Bolero, which contains a note of presentation written by saxophonist Paquito D' Rivera, is the first release by Duque Productions, Inc., a local label headed by Yisel Duque and former Carlos Varela sound engineer Waldy Dominguez. "We want to focus in on the many talented Cuban artists here and in Europe that have so far been neglected by the big record companies," says Duque. "We know that there is a wealth of talent out there that deserves to be recorded." Judging from this first release, in fact, the new label appears to be technically ready to take on this potentially very important work.
The debut by Carlos y Marta is beautifully packaged and includes flattering photographs of the artists in concert. The work of sound engineer Dominguez has produced a recording of superb quality, something quite rare when the performances are recorded live and onstage.
All of the songs included, save one, are well chosen for what is essentially a "concept album." The exception is Jobim's "Dindi," an otherwise beautiful composition that simply does not seem to fit into this particular recording project.
Musically there are several aspects worth noting. One is the exceptional voice of Marta Ramirez, which comes through on most of the CD as a focused and skillfully used instrument. At times Marta employs an elegant vibrato with great results while at others -- as she often does in her voicing of Gomez's "A Mi Madre" -- she holds key notes without a hint of vibrato, with great resulting effects. The talented singer's voice is often full-throated and always deeply pleasing.
While every number is interpreted with sensitivity and musical elegance, the unquestionable highlights of Trova Bolero -- at least to this writer -- are the five original compositions by Carlos Gomez. And while four of these serve to frame the poetry of José Martí, all five carry Gomez's unquestionable musical brilliance. In fact one is left to wonder why, with such obvious talent, Gomez did not include more of his original work in the CD.
Those not yet familiar with the work of Carlos y Marta will undoubtedly be pleased with the general quality of Trova Bolero. The duo's many fans will be happy with the new release. And all will probably wonder why these talented artists are not better known.