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CD Review: Plena Libre - Evolucion

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating


CD Review: Plena Libre - Evolucion

Plena Libre - Evolucion

Courtesy Times Square Records

The Bottom Line

Plena Libre is the master of plena, the island music of Puerto Rico. Evolucion offers strong rhythm, brassy instrumentals and a crisp vocal chorus in an album that's mostly plena, with a couple of bomba/quembe tunes icing the musical dessert.

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  • Plenty of plena by Puerto Rican Plena Libre
  • Bomba-Quembe "Como Son Las Cosas"
  • "Evolucion" jazz track


  • None


  • 11 tracks of high-energy plena and bomba
  • Guest artists: Angel Luis Torruellas, Andres Jimenez, Quique Domenech
  • Audio CD released by Times Square Records

Guide Review - CD Review: Plena Libre - Evolucion

Plena was music that you could usually only hear in the Puerto Rican countryside until 1994 when Plena Libre was formed and almost single-handedly changed the genre's role in the country's musical repetoire. Capturing the public's imagination with plena performed to a big band sound, Plena Libre went on to receive a number of awards and was nominated for a grammy in 2003 for Best Traditional Tropical Latin Album.

A decade later, the group brings us their newest CD, Evolucion. Still going strong and still dedicated to plena, Evolucion offers an even larger sound with the addition of more brass and guitar, flute and accordion. The new mix is powerful with a big sound and a foot-thumping rhythm. Plena is plentiful with 7 of 11 tracks devoted to the genre. A standout is "Me Quisiste" with the clear addition of accordion and the help of the septuagenarian Angel Torruellas, a legend in the annals of vocalists dedicated to Puerto Rico's Jibaro music. "Tumbao" is remixed in a bonus track at the end of the album (which, for some reason, is not listed on the album jacket).

The album's surprise number is the jazz instrumental "Evolucion" with mellow trombones in the lead and a number of sizzling instrumental solos. It's clear that the "ambassadors of plena" are at the top of their game and only getting better. This is an album you'll want to listen to over and over again.

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