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Plena Libre – “Habla Cuembe”
Plena Libre’s energetic mix of Latin and Afro-Caribbean styles will warm your heart. So it seems appropriate that the Puerto Rican group’s latest release is entitled Corazón (Heart). Led by bass player Gary Núñez, Plena Libre serve up an intoxicating blend of Puerto Rican plena, bomba, Cuban songo, merengue, Latin jazz and rock. Driven by a strong rhythmic core, Plena Libre’s ensemble features a range of percussive instruments including: seguidor, punteador and requinto hand drums, as well as güiro, timbal, congas and additional percussion. Bass, piano, keyboards and trombones round out the group for the vocalists to sing over.
“We emphasize the sound of the drum in the eternal dialog with the voice and the rest of the musical ensemble as we adapt elements of jazz, rock, and other Latin and Afro-Caribbean music to our roots.” – Gary Núñez
Corazón is a symbol of the spirit, of love, courage, will, solidarity, kindness and sincerity – all of which are foundations for a strong community. Plena and bomba have always been community-oriented genres and traditionally they acted as a source of news for Puerto Rico’s barrios, keeping people informed about current events. Plena Libre believes that a healthy Puerto Rico starts at home as the solutions to their problems can be found on the archipelago.
“We need to stop looking for ‘outside’ solutions. We need for Puerto Ricans to take a closer look to our situation, to look to our own talents as a center for the development of new pride in ourselves, because we are capable of solving our problems as a society.” – Gary Núñez
Plena Libre are at the top of their game on Corazón. They pay homage to a couple of the greats with covers of Mon Rivera’s “A Papá” and Don Rafael Cepeda’s “Habla Cuembe.” Striking original compositions and bright arrangements fill this record with plenty of heat. Listen to the mesmerizing sound of Afro-Caribbean roots music on Corazón.
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