What's Past Is Present On Two New Puerto Rican Albums Banning Eyre reviews two albums from artists who are reinventing classic sounds from Puerto Rico: iLe's iLevitable and Miramar's Dedication to Sylvia Rexach.
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What's Past Is Present On Two New Puerto Rican Albums

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What's Past Is Present On Two New Puerto Rican Albums

Review

Music Reviews

What's Past Is Present On Two New Puerto Rican Albums

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(SOUNDBITE OF ILE SONG, "DOLOR")

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Two new albums re-imagine classic Puerto Rican sounds for today.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DOLOR")

ILEANA CABRA: (Singing in Spanish).

SIEGEL: Singer Ileana Cabra, who's heard here, as well as the leaders of the group Miramar are best known for modern salsa and pop. Well, now they've both chosen to update older sounds, especially the melancholy, romantic bolero. Banning Eyre has this review of the two albums.

BANNING EYRE, BYLINE: Ileana Cabra first took the stage as a teenager, singing backup for her older half-brothers in the genre-bending, Latin Grammy Award-winning dance band Calle 13. But on her ambitious solo debut, iLe, as she's known, transports her spectacular alto voice into a boldly reimagined past.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "QUIEN ERES TU")

CABRA: (Singing in Spanish).

EYRE: The two boleros we've heard were written by Cabra's late grandmother. These are songs of impossible love and heartbreaking sadness. Cabra's own compositions also find beauty in dark places and not always through the bolero. "Rescatarme" - "Rescue Me" - conjures the grandeur of a vintage mambo orchestra - just sensational.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RESCATARME")

CABRA: (Singing in Spanish).

EYRE: The group Miramar goes for an even tighter focus on the past with an album featuring covers by Puerto Rico's greatest and most-beloved bolero composer, Sylvia Rexach. The principals here spent over a decade spinning out Nuyorican salsa and other Latin dance groups in the group Bio Ritmo. But in Miramar, their voices intertwine in a spare and elegant invocation of heritage.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "Y ENTONCES")

MIRAMAR: (Singing in Spanish).

EYRE: These are trying times for folks with ties to Puerto Rico. The island faces a crippling debt crisis, and its diaspora community has endured tragedy on the U.S. mainland. In a time of grief and self-reflection, the music of the Ileana Cabra and Miramar offers much needed solace. The pain of the present finds transcendence in enduring expressions from the past.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DI CORAZON")

MIRAMAR: (Singing in Spanish).

SIEGEL: Banning Eyre is a senior producer for Afropop Worldwide. He reviewed "iLevitable" by Iliana Cabra and "Dedication To Sylvia Rexach" by Miramar.

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