Maria Ochoa Asi Quiero Vivir (Blue Jackel)
Asi Quiero Vivir (Blue Jackel)
Reviewed by Harvey Pekar, Fri., Oct. 13, 2000
Asi Quiero Vivir (Blue Jackel)The son, a hybrid Cuban genre derived from Spanish and African music, developed in the Oriente province during the 19th century and achieved a great deal of popularity in the 20th; Oriente and its major city, Santiago de Cuba, remain son hubs. The music features simple, repeated motifs, call-and-response vocals, and instrumental improvisation over African-influenced rhythms. A typical early son band would consist of a tres (Cuban guitar), bass, and bongos. One of its most successful performers is Eliades Ochoa, known for his appearances in the Buena Vista Social Club movie as the guy in the cowboy hat. Another excellent artist is his older sister Maria, vocalist for Corazon de Son (The Heart of Son). Heart is what her vocals are full of, Ochoa an inspiring, unpretentious singer who communicates tremendous enthusiasm to her audience. She seems to be singing out of sheer love, and if she gets paid, so much the better. From the opener "Camina y Ven," Ochoa's singing radiates warmth and zest. When not featured, she can be heard in the background, shouting encouragement to other band members. The songs she's chosen include classic pop compositions by such historically important figures as Miguel Matamoros. The other band members, including guesting brother Eliades and tres soloist Rey Cabrera Castellanos, perform with the same unaffected competence and joy, which makes this disc a sheer delight.