Written on the 27th of August 2014
It’s funny how we sometimes look back and think “how could I dislike this?”. At least it has often happened to me, mostly with certain music (with food too). One of my biggest moments of bewilderment at my own blindness was when I realized how superb the album Lágrimas Negras (black tears in English) is.
Lágrimas Negras is a joint effort by Cuban pianist Bebo Valdés (who sadly passed away last year) and Spanish flamenco singer Diego “El Cigala”. I’ve never been a big fan of flamenco, although I’ve began to pay a bit more attention to it in the last couple of years, and some time ago I wouldn’t have been particularly interested in latin-jazzy rhythms like the stuff Valdés plays here either.
I don’t know why or how I changed my mind. I just know that one day I felt like giving that album a try in my room and holy cow, holy cow, holy cow. Music can’t get any classier. Who would have said that El Cigala’s flamenco groans and moans would fit Bebo’s unmatchable elegance so perfectly. I don’t know much about flamenco, but I certainly do like El Cigala’s voice a lot, the guy can definitely sing.
It should also be noted that Bebo Valdés was eighty-three years old when the album was recorded. Eighty-three. Please check out that piano playing, the surgeon’s precision with which he plays each and every note, the firmness of his pulse, the way he makes his piano sound both bumpy and smooth at the same time. It’s mindblowing and I just lack the words to praise this man’s skill at his age.
Although this album is basically about the combination of piano and voice, some other instruments (except in Vete de Mí) add a bit more substance to the music, especially the contrabass. I’ve always loved the way the cello sounds, but the contrabass is a perfect choice here. I was positively surprised by the way it made the music sound even more elegant.
All the songs are excellent, but if I had to choose one, it would be the title track. Bazillions of artists have covered Lágrimas Negras, so I wasn’t particularly excited to hear another version of the song, but this stuff is too original to stay unnoticed.
Here are a few more songs from the album. They are live videos, but it’s basically the same thing.