REVIEW | Caribenos
The Journal of the Percussive Arts Society Vol. 37. No. 3 June 1999
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Orlando Cotto, Marimba
The marimba as a solo instrument has only begun to come of age cover the past few decades. Its rapid development is attributed to a handful of individuals who through their unique experimentation, vision, and artistry, have won a receptive and growing audience. Not many would dispute this astute comments, found in the liner notes to this album of marimba music. And there should be no one who, after listening to Cotto’s artistry and the exciting music on this disc, will not believe that the future of the marimba as a viable artistic medium is rosy indeed. The immediacy and vitality of the music on this disc impresses the listener from the very first selection. Andrew Lázaro three-movement “Caribeños” which showcases, in addition to Cotto, the Latin Percussion work of Giovanni Hidalgo. Rhythmic energy, which derives from Cuban genres such as the son montuno and Cuban rumba, and the Puerto Rican plena rhythm, gives the music its infectious quality. The disc contains two original compositions, José Rodriquez Alvira’s “Pequeña Pieza Para Marimba” (Small Piece for Marimba), and Ricardo Lorenz’s “Piedra en la Piedra” (Stone Against Stone). The former is purportedly the first piece for solo marimba written in Puerto Rico and uses themes based on Antillean rhythms; the later, written for flute and marimba, features the artistry of flautist Allison Potter and combines contemporary and folk-like elements such as the clave rhythm played by the marimbist on a pedal woodblock. Four works that Cotto arranged for the marimba round out this disc. They are Antonio Lauro’s “Valses Venezolanos,” two enchanting waltzes originally written for solo guitar; Fernando Bustamante’s delightful “Misionera,” which incorporates the accompaniment of the South American Cajón (wooden box played with the hands); Abelardo Valdes’ “Almendra,” and a adaptation of the classic danzón for marimba and percussion; and perhaps the most ambitious work on the disc, three movements of Astor Piazzola’s “Historie Du Tango”. In those three movements (“Bordel 1900, “Café 1930,” “Night Club 1960”), which deal with the evolution of the tango, Cotto is joined by violinist José Cueto, who proves a sensitive partner in some exciting music making. The music on this CD titillates the ears with its exotic sounds. However, it may also affect other senses as well. For example, put on Lauro’s “Valse Venezolanos,” sit back and close your eyes, and see if you can’t smell the heady aroma of the rain forest wafting from your speakers.
-John R. Raush