Best Place To Buy Latin Music (2000)

Esperanto Music

"No musical prejudices" reads a handwritten sign, the first clue about the forbidden fruit that lies within Esperanto. While live Cuban music too often falls victim to local political heat and a knee-jerk emotional backlash, you can still hear it on CD, thanks to this outpost of cultural tolerance on Lincoln Road. From vintage Fifties descarga to the latest timba outfits from Havana, Esperanto features a sometimes daunting array of Cuban sounds. Fortunately the store also has a knowledgeable staff that's more than happy to school those just sampling the pleasures of son. Of course Cuban tunes are only part of the musical spectrum, which extends to Brazil (including plenty of hard-to-find tropicalismo classics from Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso), Puerto Rico, Colombia, and virtually anywhere else in the world people are getting funky. Free in-store appearances by touring artists are another draw. But the clearest explanation for Esperanto's appeal came recently while watching manager Carlos Suarez set up a host of microphones for a set by Buena Vista Social Club laúd player Barbarito Torres, only to burst into his own heartfelt karaoke take on one of that group's songs.


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