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Compay Segundo: Calle Salud

Following his 1997 album, Lo Mejor de la Vida (“The Best in Life”) comes the second solo album by Compay Segundo, Calle Salud (“Health Street”) (Nonesuch 79578; 56:36), recorded when he was 90, and linked to Segundo’s own debut U.S. tour last fall. Segundo, whose beguiling voice is heard on “Chan Chan,” the “hit” from Buena Vista Social Club, exerts rougher vocal charms than Ferrer, and he stokes a smart and fiery sound with his group Compay Segundo y sus Muchachos, which he formed in 1956. Here, he plays on the instrument of his invention, the seven-string armonica, a merger of the Cuban tres and the Spanish guitar. He also includes clarinet in the instrumentation, harking back to the son tradition of the ’30s-when he was in his 30s. In Segundo’s case, the flesh and the spirit are both willing and able.

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