Rubén Blades – Medoro Madera (Ruben Blades Productions, 2018)
Medoro Madera is Ruben Bades’ fascinating tribute to the great Cuban soneros. He does this by creating an alter ego, a character that sings with a different, unrecognizable voice. Rubén changes his voice surprisingly, using a different timbre than we are used to and it’s all done without electronics.
The gentleman on the front cover, Medoro Madera is a new persona as well. It’s a superimposed picture of Rubén Blades’ 93-year old father and Rubén himself.
Medoro Madera features the superb Panamanian Roberto Delgado & Orchestra, although in a scaled down version to resemble a traditional son cubano ensemble. Additional Cuban flavor is added by Panama-based Cuban tres guitar virtuoso Mayito Travieso and conguero Juan Zelada.
The lineup on the album includes Medoro Madera (Rubén Blades) on lead vocals, chorus; musical director Roberto Delgado on double bass, guitar and choruses; Bolívar “Bomy” Román on tres; Juan Berna on piano; Marcos Barraza on congas; Carlos Pérez-Bidó on timbales; Raúl “Toto” Rivera on bongo, bell, güiros and maracas; Juan Carlos “Wichy” López on trumpet; Alejandro “Chichisín” Castillo on trumpets; George de León on chorus; Mayito Travieso on tres; and Juan Zelada on congas.
Medoro Madera is an irresistible and savory neo-traditional Cuban album by the multi-faceted and extremely talented singer-songwriter and actor Rubén Blades. “The most danceable album I’ve ever done.”