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The Cuatro Project recommends...

...outstanding works endorsed by the Cuatro Project. The best of the best!

Photo by Lionel Ziegler, San Antonio, Texas

ECOS DE PUERTO RICO: Texans preserving their Puerto Rican roots...with pride!

For the last two years, ECOS DE PUERTO RICO, a 12-person cuatro group has been actively and succesfully representing Puerto Rican traditional music in San Antonio and South Texas. The group is composed of four first cuatros, four second cuatros, plus a rhythm section that includes two guitars, bongos and congas, and güiro, a percussive "scratch gourd" native to Puerto Rico. Members range in age from 43 to 74. We've created a page about them here.

Pedrito and Kacho interpret José Noguera's  Linda Risueña

WOW!! What these two do to the traditional Quinto al Aire in a Jazz vein is truly marvelous! (fragment)

Get a copy calling 787-453-7646

CAMINO LIBRE: Pedro Guzman/Kacho Montalvo
"Libre" [free] is the key word here.This recording is liberating.  In Camino Libre, two consummate master musicians--each one among the most outstanding in their field--improvise together in free form. Kacho Montalvo on guitar and Pedro Guzmán on cuatro come together to form a single, magic, intertwined instrument, executed by what seems to be a single mind. With no more accompaniment than the voice of Pavel Urquiza on one track, the two alone create within Jazz and within the Cuatro a new sound, a new texture, a new experience. 
      The astounding--almost fearless--inventiveness exhibited in each piece, like for example the jazz version of the
danza Bajo la Sombra de un Pino and Variaciones sobre [variations upon] un Quinto al Aire expands this listener's vision of what is possible with only one cuatro and one guitar.

In this fragment titled Controversia Picante [spicy controversy] the Puerto Rican troubadour Arturo Santiago Guzmán does a controversia with the Cuban troubadour Emiliano Sardiñas Colpello--the first to the tune of a Seis Celinés followed by the second who sings his décima to the tune of a Punto Libre.

You can get a copy at Decimanía

"Separated by the Sea" celebrates an encounter of Puerto Rican and Cuban décima poets and troubadours.
The ancient Décima Espinela poetic form was utilized by the jíbaro country man in Puerto Rico. Their descendants still sings it up this day to the tune of a seis. The jíbaro's Cuban counterpart, the guajiro, also sings it--but to the tune of a punto cubano or punto libre. Although the décima still survives on other islands of the Caribbean archiipelago, it is most firmly seated in the islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico. This kinship is celebrated during frequent events called Encuentros Internacionales de Trovadores [International Troubadour Encounters], richly documented in this marvelously double-CD recording. It comprises performances by the most brilliant stars in the firmaments of the traditional music of both countries. The Puerto Rican contigent includes the great troubadours Roberto Silva, Isidro Fernández, Jovino González, Omar Santiago, Arturo Santiago Guzmán, Arturo Santiago Labrador y Ricardo Villanueva--expertly accompanied by Antonio Rivera and his group, la Orquesta Criolla Nacional de Puerto Rico and Edwin Colón Zayas and his group, Taller Campesino.

Listen to a short sample of this great piece of work: a Seis Pampero expressing the décima (and sung by) Lourdes Cosme: Mi amigo Efraín Vidal"

You can download this recording here

Or you can purchase the CD


Or you can order a copy by sending a check or money order to: PMB 207, 267 Calle Sierra Morena, San Juan, PR, 00926-5583

A double-CD recording honors the memory of the late cuatrista Efraín Vidal
The musicians, singers and artists closest to the recently-deceased cuatrista Efraín Vidal have created here an emotional farewell to their friend, teacher and companion, in the form of a beautiful double-CD recording of original compositions, most of them executed in authentic traditional fashion. In it we hear intensely emotion sentiments of loss, distilled within original décimas written by Joaquin Mouliert, Edgardo Delgado, Lourdes Cosme, Miguel Trinidad, Mariano Coto and others, revealing the profound impact that this simple, genuine and good-natured artist had over their lives. The very skilled young  cuatrista Manny Trinidad accompanies the numerous décimas of the work with great precision and refinement, each one expressed in its own, distinctive seis genre. Manny has also done a great job of establishing an enduring reminder of the great maestro in the form of a new foundation called Fundación Efraín Vidal Maldonado, where presumably the profits from the recording will go. We congratulate him for his noble effort.

"This recording of the work of Luciano Quiñones will be historic because he accomplished the same task as was as the one realized by the great, late Maestro Ladí with the music of Juan Morel Campos and of other composers of this music, passing it from one generation to another. The composer Luciano Quiñones is extremely pleased with the recording because up to now only other pianists knew about his works, and now A large majority of cuatristas will be able to access this feast of precious Puerto Rican danzas".                                 Neftalí Ortiz

Modern Danzas by Luciano Quiñones
Pure perfection, we would hasten to say, characterizes this recent collection of Danzas, titled Fiestas de la calle San Sebastian, composed by the award-winning composer-pianist Luciano Quiñones, arranged for stringed instruments by Neftalí Ortiz and performed impeccably on two cuatros, guitarr and guiro by Neftalí Ortiz, Ray Vázquez y Neftalí Ortiz, Jr. With this recording maestro Quiñones has created a time machine which faithfully brings a nineteenth century Puerto Rican musical sensibility to the present day. It's spooky...Quiñones appears to channel the sprits of the great 19th century composers Morel Campos, Mislán y Tavarez, who seem to guide Quiñones' pen over the staff paper. What a wonder!

Listen to a short fragment of the danza Amor Eterno, [eternal love] by  Luciano Quiñones, his piece a winner of the First Prize from the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture in 2005

You can purchase this recording here.

Listen to Modesto Nieves featuring the bordonúa in the anthemic bolero En Mi Viejo San Juan

All the instruments of the jíbaro orchestra are featured in the bolero Querube

 The Orquesta Jíbara is not just an ordinary group...
In 1849 Manuel Alonso observed the music being played in the fields of Puerto Rico and wrote: ...a complete orchestra is formed by a bordonúa, a tiple, a cuatro, a carracho and maraca. But this type of ensemble of jíbaro instrument was forgotten in time. Academics and modern historians didn't accept the premise that these instruments were actually played together as an "ancient jibaro orchestra" until the Cuatro Project found the evidence that was necessary to verify and corroborate Alonso's observation and in 1998, the Cuatro Project recreated first in New Jersey and later in Washington DC, a Orquesta Jíbara Antigua precisely in the manner that Alonso had described it 150 years previously.
     The recording by the great Puerto Rican cuatro master Modesto Nieves, titled Orquesta Jíbara: Tiple, Cuatro y Bordonúa vol. 1 y 2  together represent the first commercial recording of what the Cuatro Project named the
Orquesta Jíbara Antigua. It is a master work, with Nieves playing all the instruments in the orchestra.


How to understand el reggaetón (not translated yet)

1904 New York Times article on music in the recent American possession of Porto Rico