The Bottom Line
Concha Buika and Chucho Valdes joint togehter to celebrate the music of legendary singer Chavela Vargas. Recorded in Havana, El Ultimo Trago is a jewel of an album for those who love boleros, a blend of Buika's powerful voice, Valdes' stylish piano and the infusion of swing and jazz elements that make old classics shiny and contemporary.
- Poignant, stylish and satisfying
- You don't have to love Chavela Vargas but you do need to love old, classic rancheras and boleros
- Might be a little sparse for some tastes
- 12 tracks of songs from the repetoire of Cuban legend Chavela Vargas
- Recorded live in Havana, Cuba and directed by Javier Limon
- Liner notes by filmmaker Pedro Almodovar
- Released October 2009 by Warner Music Latina
Guide Review - Review: Buika & Chucho Valdes - 'El Ultimo Trago'
Known for her eccentricities as well as for her haunting, gravelly voice, Chavela Vargas was born in Costa Rica, moved to Mexico as a child and then spent the next five decades mesmerizing audiences with her interpretation of rancheras and boleros. She turned 90 this year.
A few years ago, Concha Buika met Vargas in Madrid and, after an encounter where Vargas wouldn’t let the Majorcan singer get on stage to sing with her, they became fast friends. So when Buika decided to pay tribute to Vargas on this important anniversary, she recruited Cuban pianist and famed Irakere founder Chucho Valdes and director Javier Limon and headed for Havana, where a group of talented local musicians joined the duo in a live recording session that was uninterrupted for nine hours. The result is El Ultimo Trago, also the name of one of Vargas’ hallmark songs.
The twelve tracks on this album are all songs that Chavela Vargas made famous on disc and prestigious world stages. There’s a similarity between the gritty voices of both singers but that’s where the similarity ends.
Buika interpretation of these familiar ballads is poignant and soulful, but she redefines them with a jazz or swing edge that does nothing to change the feel of the songs but does add a more contemporary flavor. Chucho Valdes delivers, as always, a distinctive and bravura performance. With a light, jazzy touch on the piano, Valdes' playing is distinctive and classy while never overpowering the singer -- although it's difficult to think of anyone overpowering Buika's strong and potent voice. The local musicians are sparse but tight and Carlos Sarduy’s trumpet solo on “Luz de Luna” is a noteworthy addition to the popular tune.
The album includes “Soledad,” “Sombras”, “Las Simples Cosas,” “Somos” and eight other popular, familiar boleros that prove why these classics never get old.