Compay_segundo-lo_mejor_de_la_vida_span3
December 1998

Compay Segundo
Lo Mejor de la vida
Nonesuch Records

Never underestimate the power of a hit. The truism hits home in the saga of Campany Segundo, the legendary Cuban son musician who was living a fairly quiet life in Havana until Ry Cooder showed up a couple of years back to get veterans on tape. The resulting album, Buena Vista Social Club (World Circuit), released in the states in 1997, is one of the bonafide world music sensations of recent years, and Segundo already had his reputation secured by the time he hit New York City earlier this year.

Segundo's own album, Lo Mejor de la vida (The Best in Life) (Nonesuch 8635; 60:40), is his domestic debut at age 90. Not a minute too soon. Campay plays the self-designed, seven-stringed armonico, something between a guitar and the standard stringed instrument of the son tradition, the tres. The 14 tracks, mostly taken from Segundo's massive song and featuring such stellar guests as Silvio Rodriguez and Omara Portuondo, buzz with the same organic, pre-salsa charm sampled on Buena Vista Social Club and affirm the importance of this neglected legacy of Cuban music. A star is reborn.

Originally published in December 1998
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