Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Estrellas de Arieto

  • Los Heroes [World Circuit, 1999] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Los Heroes [World Circuit, 1999]
An amazing story. In 1979, a Paris-based Ivorian bizzer convinced Cuba's state record company to convene a cross-generational all-star band, and for a week some 30 musicians and over a dozen singers jammed in combinations dictated by a trombone-playing a&r man. The five albums that resulted stiffed in Cuba. But don't think the jams didn't jell. These two CDs, a mere 14 cuts lasting two-and-a-half hours, grant a second life to what was obviously a blessed event. Simple heads-plus-improvs dominated by tres and violins, the first disc is one of those rare records that nail such pieties as the joy of music-making and the pleasure of the groove. The convergence of relaxation and exhilaration, teamwork and exhibitionism, skill and fun, is nothing less than utopian, which in Cuba, where utopia was a bitter memory, may have been hard to take. The second disc overemphasizes the strident trumpets adored by Cubans who want to be modern. The first one makes me want to send Ry Cooder an ironic thank-you note. A-