Plena Al Salsero (GM Musica, 2008)
Puerto Rican band Plena Libre specializes in contemporary Afro-Puerto Rican plena and bomba. Plena Libre’s latest CD is a scorching live album titled Plena al Salsero, recorded in Monterrey, Mexico. On the live recording you can listen to what the band calls a Puerto Rican sofrito (sofrito is a popular sauce used in Puerto Rico, Spain and many Spanish-speaking countries), where the band combines tasty plena and bomba with salsa, Dominican merengue and Colombian cumbia.
"This idea of a live recording was something that I had been pushed to do for years”, says band leader and bassist Gary Núñez, “but just in the past year or two, the personnel and the chemistry in the band had gelled so much that I knew that there would never be a better time. The evolution of the musical sound, and the excitement, and energy of Plena Libre’s live shows over this past year was something I honestly had never experienced with the group before. I knew this sound had to be captured right now! But when, and where?…..that was the question.”
In November 2007 Plena Libre was invited to perform five concerts in Monterrey, Mexico at the World Forum of Cultures and Education Festival, organized by UNESCO to promote world peace and understanding. “We were absolutely thrilled to be invited to play Puerto Rican music at such a special event”, recalled Nuñez, “And this seemed to be both the right place and the right time to do the live CD. Unfortunately, however, we had no time to prepare for a live recording, so we just left forMexico, without making any formal advance arrangements,” Gary notes.
“After the first two performances – we were all so charged I just became convinced that we had to record these shows. My wife Valerie and I started looking in the Monterrey phone book for recording studios and, when we came to one called ‘Cielo’ [“Heaven” in English], I just felt that this name had to be a sign! We found this big beautiful studio with an amazing engineer. By the grace of God, he had just had another job fall through so he was available. On terribly short notice, he was willing to bring all the remote equipment to Monterrey’s Parque Fundidora in time for our final shows. The whole experience just fell into place so beautifully and seamlessly, it was unbelievable.”
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