You might be wondering, Just what in hell do the Beatles have to do with Willy Chirino?
Admittedly, "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" is a far cry from "Oxigeno" and "Sexy Sadie" is worlds removed from "Soy Guajiro." But make no mistake, whether or not you recognize the Fab Four's fingerprint on the Grammy-winning Cuban music icon's tropical hits, he credits them as a major influence. "Their music has always been my greatest source of inspiration," Chirino says. "More than any other artist or group, even more than the great singers and bands from my childhood back in Cuba."
Which is why the longtime Miamian recently went back to his roots and paid homage not to Pérez Prado, Benny Moré, or the other legends of his native Cuba, but to the British rock band that moved him as a teenager. So his new album, My Beatles Heart, is both wholly unexpected (unless you regularly picture Lennon shaking maracas and Ringo beating congas) and just what you might expect from Willy Chirino covering the Beatles.
8 p.m. Saturday, September 10, at the Arsht Center, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Tickets cost $52.15 to $164.50 via arshtcenter.org.
"Across the Universe" fuses psychedelic sitar strings with a gentle tropical shuffle. "Blackbird" opens much like the original before those recognizable arpeggios usher in a rhythmic sway, led by gentle congas and an understated but undeniable salsa-style piano. Even "Helter Skelter," the album's most rock-centric moment, makes use of Chirino's tropical underpinnings.
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Overall, My Beatles Heart does the Fab Four justice by giving their beloved hits a whole new spin, complete with horns.