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Doris Lavin: Doris Lavin

Thus far, I’ve known Doris Lavin by reputation only. The Cuban spitfire, who long ago relocated to Italy, has spent much of the past two decades earning kudos for her animated blend of salsa, son and timba. Now, at long last, the Lavin magic has been captured on disc. Her eponymous debut, released on the German-based Cuba Chevere label, is teasingly brief-barely 30 minutes from soaring start to blazing finish. It is, however, a half-hour of unbridled vitality. Sounding an awful lot like a young Celia Cruz, Lavin is a whirlpool of restless energy, slowing down only for the sumptuous, string-heavy “Mi Fiel Trovador.” She embraces six decades of Cuban fury in such explosive compositions as “Ya No Hay Razon” and “Canto a Shango y Oy ,” simultaneously suggesting the sweaty theatricality of Desi Arnaz and fervid majesty of Paquito D’Rivera. Perhaps, though, her cover of Felix Chappottin’s “Sazonando” is most prescient. I’m told that, roughly translated, the title means ‘spicily Cuban.’ Listening to Lavin, it’s hard to imagine a more fitting adjective.

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