Adeli’s Music Blog

90 Millas to Mi Tierra

Posted in music by adeli on October 6, 2007

Gloria Estefan’s strength lies in her native Spanish songs, those that celebrate the Caribbean beats and her Cuban heritage. The album that started her on her journey back ’home’ was 1993’s critically acclaimed Mi Tierra. 90 Millas, her fourth Spanish album, is another love letter to Cuba. It’s aptly named for the distance between Key West – the southernmost point of the U.S. – and Cuba. 90 Millas is a fiesta. It doesn’t matter if you understand Spanish or not, it’ll get you moving or want to learn how to dance salsa. This impassioned new addition to Estefan’s catalog of music is her absolute best.

No Llores (Don’t Cry) brings together the exceptional José Feliciano and Carlos Santana on guitars, with Sheila E and Luis Enrique on percussion. Because of Santana’s distinctive opening riff, the listener will immediately be reminded of Smooth, and that’s not such a bad thing. This caliente tune is already climbing the charts in much the same way. Píntame (Paint Me) is in the tradition of the Cuban ’son,’ or folk song. It’s heavy on the bongos, timbales, and the Cuban Tres – the guitar-like instrument with three double strings present in many Afro-Cuban bands. This type of song celebrates the union of lush landscapes and love among country folks. There are layered vocals and short verses, with the ongoing chorus prevailing. The actor, Andy Garcia, shows his rhythm on the bongos here. A premier Tres player, Nelson Gonzalez shines brightly, and is a major contributor to this album.

One of the slow tunes, Bésame (Kiss Me) is a beautiful love song. José Feliciano – a frequent collaborator of Estefan’s – does his magic on the acoustic guitar. And on flute, Johnny Pacheco (also known as El Maestro) – the Dominican-born composer, bandleader, and producer who pioneered salsa music in the United States. Esperando (Waiting) and the title track ponder the eventual freedom of Cuba. The second is especially rich in African chants. There are very few Spanish lyrics here, and they are sung much like a conga mantra: 90 millas vienen, 90 millas faltan (90 miles come, 90 miles still to go). Whether it’s wishful thinking or not, the timing of these songs couldn’t be better.

The most interesting song on 90 Millas is Morenita (Dark-skinned Girl). Afro-Cuban rhythms are at their best in this composition. It tells of the Santeria ritual where saints are channeled through chants, dances, and drums. This will get you shaking your hips and clapping your hands, as will the other two party songs – A Bailar (Let’s Dance) and Esta Fiesta No Va Acabar (This Party Will Not End).

Several high-caliber musicians participate in this high-energy celebration of Latin music. Aside from those already noted above, Latin jazz greats Arturo Sandoval and Pacquito D’Rivera play trumpet and saxophone respectively. The octogenarians, Candido Camero and Israel “Cachao” López aren’t slowing down just yet. Camero bangs on the congas and bongos with vitality, while “Cachao,” the father of the mambo, skillfully plays the bass.

90 Millas is quite simply, the album Gloria Estefan was born to make. And if by chance it’s the last, then, what a way to celebrate!

Conga performance on Dancing With The Stars: click here.

One Response

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  1. Kiri said, on October 17, 2007 at 3:09 pm

    I am looking forward to hearing her new album. The only Gloria I like is in spanish- happy to hear she is going back to her roots.

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