Blue Cha Cha
Montuno/ Concord Picante
Cuba oozes great musicians, but Manuel Galban isn’t just a run of the mill genius, he may have been the greatest of the them all. He arrived in Havana in 1945 with a peso in his pocket, but soon became a popular sound on radio and dance halls and passed through the revolution relatively unscathed. You might remember him from Buena Vista Social Club, a 1999 doc on the Cuban music scene. This is his last album, and it just glitters with cha cha, tango, jazz, swing, and whatever you can dance to with a guitar.
Where to begin? “Bluechacha” features some innocuous yet sexy lyrics, and in the back Galban picks a jazz riff over the traditional drum and castanets sound. “Duele” has a late night jazz sound where the piano dominates but you can easily pick out Galban’s guitar, while “Y Deja” sounds suspiciously like “Take all of Me.” Either way it’s a bright bouncy tune. There’s a little bit of everything elegant and tropical on this disc, and it comes with a nifty DVD of Galan’s music videos. His power playing underscores a young couple dancing and romancing, and it’s a perfect complement to the CD.