Ry Cooder & Manuel Galbán – Mambo Sinuendo (2003)

FrontCover1Ryland Peter Cooder (born March 15, 1947) is an American musician, songwriter, film score composer and record producer. He is a multi-instrumentalist but is best known for his slide guitar work, his interest in roots music from the United States, and his collaborations with traditional musicians from many countries.

Cooder’s solo work draws upon many genres. He has played with John Lee Hooker, Captain Beefheart, Gordon Lightfoot, Ali Farka Touré, Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, Van Morrison, Neil Young, Randy Newman, Linda Ronstadt, Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, David Lindley, The Chieftains, The Doobie Brothers, and Carla Olson & the Textones (on record and film). He formed the band Little Village. He also produced the Buena Vista Social Club album (1997), which became a worldwide hit. Wim Wenders directed the documentary film of the same name (1999), which was nominated for an Academy Award in 2000.

Cooder was ranked eighth on Rolling Stone magazine’s 2003 list of “The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” (David Fricke’s Picks). A 2010 ranking by Gibson placed him at number 32.

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Manuel Galbán (January 14, 1931 – July 7, 2011) was a Grammy-winning Cuban guitarist, pianist and arranger, most notable for his work with Los Zafiros, Ry Cooder and the Buena Vista Social Club. One of two surviving members of Los Zafiros, he died on July 7, 2011 of cardiac arrest at his home in Havana, Cuba.

Manuel Galbán was born on January 14, 1931 and grew up in the small fishing town of Gibara in the Holguín Province of eastern Cuba. After playing guitar and tres in various local youth groups, he got his first professional gig at the age of 14 playing guitar with the Orchestra Villa Blanca. In 1956 he moved to Havana, where he spent seven years playing in bars and clubs and making frequent appearances on radio.

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In 1963 he joined the legendary vocal group Los Zafiros, after a mutual friend had recommended him to them. His playing proved to be a such hit with Los Zafiros that he was told by singer Miguel Cancio “Galbán, from now on you’re working with us; you’re exactly what we’re looking for”. Galbán was such an essential ingredient to the sound of Los Zafiros that the distinguished Cuban pianist Peruchin once said “to replace Galbán you would need two guitarists”. He left the group in 1972 after working hard for years to allay the personal problems that plagued its various members.

Thereafter he spent three years with Cuba’s national musical ensemble, Dirección Nacional de Música, and then a further 23 years with the Grupo Batey as a guitarist, vocalist and pianist, touring extensively across four continents.

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In 1998 he joined the traditional Cuban group Vieja Trova Santiaguera with whom he toured and released two highly acclaimed albums. He also he appeared in the Wim Wenders film Buena Vista Social Club, filmed with Ry Cooder during the sessions for the debut solo album by Ibrahim Ferrer. Later he recorded with Ferrer and Buena Vista Social Club bassist Cachaíto Lopez, leading to his present engagement as the featured guitarist with the touring ensemble named after the film.

In 2001 he recorded Mambo Sinuendo with Ry Cooder which won the 2003 Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Album. Says Cooder of the making of the album “Galbán and I felt that there was a sound that had not been explored, a Cuban electric-guitar band that could re-interpret the atmosphere of the 1950s with beauty, agility, and simplicity. We decided on two electrics, two drum sets, congas and bass: a sexteto that could swing like a big band and penetrate the mysteries of the classic tunes. This music is powerful, lyrical, and funny; what more could you ask?”

Galbán’s distinctive electric guitar sound makes liberal use of reverb, tremolo, diminished arpeggio runs and palm mutes. Using a Fender Telecaster with heavy gauge strings, he references the tone of Duane Eddy and the early surf guitarists whilst playing the melodic runs and chordal patterns associated with traditional Cuban music. He has been pictured using Fender Twin, Roland JC120 and Fender Bassman amps, as well as a Dunlop TS-1 stereo tremolo pedal.

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Mambo Sinuendo is a studio album released by Cuban performer Manuel Galbán and producer Ry Cooder. The album was the first number-one album in the Billboard Top Latin Albums chart for Galbán and the second for Cooder (after Buena Vista Social Club in 1998), and won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Album at the 46th Grammy Awards.

About the recording of this album, Cooder notes that “Galbán and I felt that there was a sound that had not been explored in a Cuban electric-guitar band that could re-interpret the atmosphere of the 1950s with beauty, agility, and simplicity. We decided on two electrics, two drum sets, congas and bass: a sexteto that could swing like a big band and penetrate the mysteries of the classic tunes. This music is powerful, lyrical, and funny; what more could you ask? Mambo Sinuendo is Cuban soul and high-performance.” (wikipedia)

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Mambo Sinuendo is a collaboration between Ry Cooder and Buena Vista alum (and formerly of many other groups as well) Manuel Galbán. The album attempts to catch an old style popularized in Cuba by Galbán, and was, surprisingly, never followed up on by anybody after Galbán. It’s a guitar-based romp closely based in the pop/jazz crossovers of the 1950s-1960s (Henry Mancini, Nelson Riddle, etc). There’s a touch of exoticism here and there, and a larger touch of a relatively Hawaiian feel throughout the whole via the guitar techniques employed by the pair. It’s all somewhere in a form between lounge, mambo, and Esquivel’s old space-age-bachelor-pad music. In rare instances, there’s even a little bit of a house drum loop added in by the percussionists.

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Aside from the stray spacey chorus in the title track, it’s an entirely instrumental affair, which suits the musicians quite well, giving them a chance to show off their full virtuosity along the way. The musicality these guitarists hold, and the interplay between them, is really the treat of the album. For a nice look at the musical genre that never was, but probably should have been, this makes a good show. Newcomers to Cooder should perhaps dig into some older releases to get a feel before coming to this album, but all others should embrace it quickly. (by Adam Greenberg)

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Personnel:
Herb Alpert (trumpet)
Carla Commagere (vocals)
Juliette Commagere (vocals)
Joachim Cooder (drums)
Ry Cooder (guitar, steel-guitar, bass, keyboards, vibraphone, tres)
Miguel “Angá” Díaz (percussion)
Manuel Galbán (guitar)
Jim Keltner (drums)
Orlando “Cachaito” López (bass)
Yaure Muniz (trumpet)

Booklet01ATracklist:
01. Drume Negrita (Grenet) 5.00
02. Monte Adentro” (Arsenio Rodríguez) 2.53
03. Los Twangueros (Galbán/Cooder) 4.42
04. Patricia (Prado) 3.29
05. Caballo Viejo (Díaz) 3.51
06. Mambo Sinuendo (Galbán/R.Cooder/J.Cooder) 2.31
07. Bodas de Oro (Chepin) 4.40
08. Échale Salsita (Piñeiro) 4.27
09. La Luna en Tu Mirada (Chanivecky) 4.13
10. Secret Love (Webster/Fain) 5.49
11. Bolero Sonámbulo (Galbán/Cooder) 4.31
12. María la O (Lecuona) 4.19

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