|CD||Adalberto Alvarez y Su Son||
Respeto pa los mayores - (Bis Music) Released 2013
The style may be retro, and the lyrics may invoke tradition, but there's nothing old about the energy level. This is Adalberto's hardest-hitting album in decades. Take the energy from Son 14, augment the brass section, crank things up a couple of notches, and you're headed in the right direction.
Empezar de cero - (EGREM) -Released 2011
This is the well-done debut Timba recording by a former member of Gente de Zona and includes some heavyweights like Alexander Abreu and Amaury Pérez in the brass section.
Cu-Bop - (EGREM) Released 2012
This extraordinary album is what the title says it is, and possibly the best recording of it ever made anywhere. Recorded in the EGREM studios and originally manufactured and distributed by a Japanese label, now available in Cuba as an EGREM CD. Nominated for a Cubadisco in 2013 (Vocal-Instrumental Music), it deserves to win something, somewhere.
Orquesta Aragon in Chicago 2014
Orquesta Aragón returned to Chicago after an absence of more than a decade for two shows at the Mayne Stage in Chicago. The venue was full and enthusiastic for their swinging performances.
|CD||Pupy & Los Que Son Son||
Sin Líimite - (EGREM) Released 2013
Sin Límite, his latest release on EGREM, is one of Pupy's most innovative albums, full of stylistic twists and turns that you wouldn't normally expect in a recording that still contains some great timba.
|DVD||Pupy & Los Que Son Son||
Éxitos - (EGREM) Released 2012
Nominated in the Compilation category in Cubadisco 2013, this DVD contains 30 slamming Timba MP3s of some of Pupy's best material along with a 25-minute documentary.
Rafael Rosa - Portrait
Rafael Rosa is a Puerto Rico-born, New York residing guitarist who has been making a name for himself since arriving in NYC in 2011. His debut album “Portrait” consists entirely of original material and was produced by Rosa along with legendary bassist John Benítez. His line-up of musicians includes a nucleus of Rosa, Edmar Colón, Dan Martínez, Joel Mateo and Carlos Homs with special guests John Benítez, Kenny Werner, Jean-Michel Pilc, Michael Rodríguez, Melanie Lozano, Carlos Maldonado and Milton Barreto.
Miami Boheme: An American Musical Journey (Rolling Pin Music) Released 2014
Miami Boheme is an hour-long PBS documentary (also available on DVD) that chronicles Miami's current Latin Fusion music scene. It includes excellent concert footage and video clips by several groups including Palo! and Spam Allstars.
Palo! Live (Rolling Pin Music) Released 2014
This is a recording of a phenomenal concert by Palo! at the now-shuttered PAX Miami. Some video clips of this performance also appear in the PBS documentary Miami Boheme. Powerful vocals by Leslie Cartaya, serious Afro Cuban Funk beats, and Ed Calle goes insane on tenor sax.
Renacer (Independent Release) Released 2014
This debut CD by Cuban-born singer-songwriter-keyboardist Alex Bia includes an explosive opening track with special guest Tirso Duarte. It isn't a Timba album (except for the first track), but the other styles that it contains (Salsa, Latin Pop/R & B) are solid.
Dreaming (Colibrí) Released 2012
This swinging album by William Roblejo is relatively unique for Cuba - a Jazz violin soloist carrying the entire recording with a variety of stylistic influences. Deservedly nominated in three categories in Cubadisco 2013.
Viva Qva Libre (Bis Music) Released 2011
Qva Libre is one of Cuba's best alternative bands and will especially appeal to fans of groups like Interactivo. Viva Cuba Libre is their second album, which won Cubadisco (fusion) and Cuerda Viva awards in 2011.
|CD||Juan Carlos Marín||
El Trombón de Santa Amalia - (Cinquillo/Colibri) Released 2012
This 2013 nominee for a Cubadisco award in the Jazz Cubano category showcases Juan Carlos Marín, who may now be Cuba's best Jazz trombonist, along with an excellent ensemble performing some modern Jazz and Jazz Fusion material. It is also yet another entry in Colibri's "The Young Jazz Spirit" series, which so far has consistently proven to be excellent.
|CD||Pedro Luis Ferrer||
Final (Escondida Music) Released 2014.03.25
Final almost certainly is not Pedro Luis Ferrer's final album, but it is a great album to put on during a quiet weekend morning with a loved one.
Derramando Luz (GC Music LLC) Released 2013.01.11
This beautiful and unique album is a rarity: a modern Filin recording released in the United States. It features stellar vocalist Gema Corredera with many of New York's Cuban Jazz elite. It was nominated for a Cubadisco award (Contemporary Song) in 2013.
Añejo carta de oro - 100 joyas de la música cubana (Bis Music) released 2013
This excellent 6-CD, 100-song set focuses on traditional music from as far back as María Teresa Vera to modern artists such as Mayito Rivero covering classic songs. It includes a few groups that you may have read about but never actually heard.
5 Leyendas de Cuba (EGREM) Released 2008
This 5-CD set covers the careers of Eliades Ochoa, Compay Segundo, Ibrahim Ferrer, Omara Portuondo and Rubén González in a broader context than their work associated with the Buena Vista Social Club using EGREM's recordings of them.
15 años locos por la música (Bis Music) Released 2008
This 4-CD-set is hands down one of the best collections of various artists to emerge from Cuba in the last two decades. It is loaded with Cubadisco winners and even includes genres like classical that seldom show up in packages of this tupe.
|CD||Los Van Van||
La Formell Manía (Bis Music) Released 2013
The 3 CD-set is one of the very best of the numerous Los Van Van compilations. Excellent song choices, ditto continuity, ditto production values.
|CD||Soneros All Stars||
Lolo - (Soneros Records) Released 2014.03.26
Yanesito has hit this one out of the ballpark!
|CD||Liuba María Hevia||
Colección 30 años (Bis Music) Released 2013
This is an intriguing 8-CD box set covering 30 years of recordings by one of Cuba's best representatives of the Nueva Trova movement, Liuba María Hevia. It won a Special Prize in Cubadisco 2014.
45 D' LUJO (EGREM) Released 2009
This special collection of 10 CDs (192 songs) was issued in 2009 in honor of EGREM's 45th Anniversary and includes selections from the years 1961-2009.
Veinte Pianos - (Cinquillo/Colibri) Released 2011
Winner of the Grand Prize in Cubadisco 2012, this unique project features the music of Ernán López-Nussa in a way that also showcases the talent of some of Cuba's young generation of new pianists. The product also includes sheet music, a documentary, videos and a photo gallery with more than 3 hours of active content.
|DVD||Juan Formell y Los Van Van||
Van Van 40 - (Unicornio) Released 2012
This DVD, which was nominated for a Cubadisco in 2013 in the live recording category, includes a 2006 40th Anniversary concert, extra footage of interviews and conversations, English subtitles in the spoken parts of the film, and some video and photo footage of the beginnings of Los Van Van.
Voces D'Aida - (EGREM) Released 2009
This 4-CD anthology of the legendary quartet plus subsequent solo recordings by its members won Cubadisco awards in Música de Archivo and Liner Notes, has wonderful music, excellent new digital audio and, best of all, it includes a well-done booklet in both Spanish and English along with the CDs.
Senses - (Ota Records) Released 2014.01.14
Omar Sosa's sixth solo piano CD is one of his most meditative, uses a concert grand piano and may also be of interest to Classical music listeners who are unfamiliar with his work.
|CD||David Calzado & Charanga Habanera||
Se Sufre Pero Se Goza - (EGREM) Released 2013.11.09
Charanga Habanera returns with a rousing Timba album that should appeal to its original fan base.
|CD/DVD||Septeto Nacional Ignacio Piñeiro||
La Habana Tiene Su Son - (Bis) Released 2012
This distinctive CD/DVD set includes both live and studio recordings of the Septeto, an interview with musicologist Helio Orovio and liner notes that make this both an excellent musical production and a valuable historical document. Nominated in both the Latin GRAMMY awards and Cubadisco 2013.
Claroscuro - (Cinquillo/Colibri) Released 2012
This 2013 Cubadisco winner in the Ópera Prima category (similar to Best New Artist in other countries) combines a variety of influences from Cuban music, Jazz and Funk. It's a Cuban Jazz album, but there are some Funk moments that will knock your socks off too.
Lo Mas Reciente de Eliades Ochoa - (EGREM) Released 2012
This trilogy is a great way to get a Latin GRAMMY winner and a Cubadisco (Cuba's most prestigious music awards) nominee in one package with a bonus of an additional collection of nice instrumentals.
Todos Estrellas del Jazz Cubano - (Cinquillo/Colibri) Released 2013
If you think you know everything there is to know about Pablo Menéndez from his past recordings with Mezcla, think again - this intense Jazz DVD not only shows sides of him that you may not know, but it will radically change your perceptions of the current Jazz scene in Cuba as well.
Venir al Mundo - (Cinquillo/Colibri) Released 2008
There is so much excellent Jazz coming out of Cuba now that it would be foolhardy to attempt to rank the best albums. That being said, this one belongs somewhere in the top ten for the past decade. This writer considers it a must-have due to the innovative compositions as well as the performance quality.
La Canción Cubana - (Cinquillo/Colibri) Released 2012
This remarkable trilogy, a multiple award winner (including the Grand Prize) in Cubadisco 2013 and a Latin GRAMMY nominee the same year, spans eight decades of the Cuban songbook and illuminates the material in beautiful ways.
|CD||Jorge Luis Torres||
Ancestral - (Iroko) Released 2013
This new Latin Jazz project by Toronto-based Cuban percussionist Jorge Luis Torres "Papiosco" will especially appeal to percussionists and fans of other groups like Bongo-Logic and Shades of Jade that make extensive use of violin and flute in their Jazz arrangements.
|CD||Orlando Valle "Maraca"||
¡Suspendan Los Comentarios! - (Independent) Released 2013
Maraca apparently read the memo from that portion of his fans that wanted a front-to-back dance album. Here it is, and it is his best dance music recording to date, although it is musically intelligent enough to keep his Jazz fans engaged as well.
|CD||Orlando Valle "Maraca"||
Todo o Nada - (Independent) Released 2013
Maraca got the need to do dance material out of his system with another recording released at roughly the same time, "¡Suspendan Los Comentarios!". "Todo o Nada" is as seriously focused on Jazz (including some straight ahead as well as Latin) as the other recording is on dance music.
New Day - (Jazz Village) - Released 2013.10.08
Harold López-Nussa's newest album, New Day, brings more beautiful songwriting and virtuosic performing from this rising young member of the illustrious López-Nussa family.
Waterside (Self-Produced) - Released 2013.05.31
Appalatin's "Waterside" is an unusual and pleasant blend of Andean, Appalachian, "Roots" music, Cumbia, Caribbean - think of a Western-Hemisphere acoustic jam session where nobody asked you where you were from or what that instrument you were carrying is called.
|Concert||Pacific Mambo Orchestra||
Pacific Mambo Orchestra - Concert in Gary Indiana - 26 October 2013
So many high-caliber bands are putting on good concerts these days that it is worth noting when one of them goes the extra mile and puts on a real Show (if you don't get the difference, that means you've never seen the latter). PMO did that in Gary, Indiana to help kick off their national tour.
|CD||Chuchito Valdés & Eddy Navia||
Carnaval En Piano Charango - (Sukay/Pachamama) Released 2013.05.27
This is an innovative blending of Chuchito's Afro-Cuban and Jazz background with Eddy Navia's background in Andean folkloric music. The strongest ingredients in the mix are Andean, but the Cuban influences are unmistakable, and the final result is beautiful.