Although the charismatic Ibrahim Ferrer had been singing for a living in his native Cuba since he was orphaned at 12 years old, his time in the international spotlight would not come until he was a senior citizen. In 1997, along with other revered Cuban musicians, he was featured on Ry Cooder's BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB album and profiled in the popular documentary. Ferrer was particularly adept at singing son and other lively dance music, but later in life developed a talent for the more down-tempo romantic bolero style. With the cachet he garnered through the BUENA VISTA album, he was able to record the first solo albums of his career, which were received warmly by critics and fans. He died in 2005 at the age of 78.
Happy, bright, sparkling, brilliant: in all honesty, there simply aren't enough colorful adjectives to accurately describe the palpable, inherent joy in the music of Cuban master Ibrahim Ferrer. All the shades of the rainbow--and more--are showcased beautifully on Ay, Candela, a vivid, varried collection of classic tracks. The assembled songs span the 1960s, '70s, and early '80s, but they sound as fresh and vibrant as anything recorded in the last few years. Ferrer is a master of delivery, and he works wonderfully alongside the expert musicians and background vocalists. It makes for some great moments, particularly during the joyous "Mi Tonada Montuna," "Manana Me Voy Pa' Sibanicu" and the title track. Ferrer's best moment, however, comes during the stirring "Una Fuerza Immensa," a lush, captivating bolero that conjures images of swaying palm trees and slow-dancing couples. It's a standout amid an album of outstanding consistency. --Joey Guerra
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