Boleros and Boleristas: S/D

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I serendipitously discovered a bolerista* I hadn't heard about before, Lucho Gatica. What an incredible voice!

When I first started buying salsa CDs, I wasn't all that happy to come across the occasional bolero track. I think Cheo Feliciano was probably the first singer to win me over. As far as I know, boleros have been universally popular (at some point) throughout Latin America. Beny More, Celia Cruz, and La Lupe have all sung them, but so have dozens of other singers whose names are a lot less familiar.

*Bolero singer. Apparently the feminine ending remains regardless of the fact that the singer is male.

Rockist Scientist, Monday, 29 March 2004 13:47 (eighteen years ago) link

I knew this would be a R.S. thread

Paul in Santa Cruz (Paul in Santa Cruz), Monday, 29 March 2004 14:10 (eighteen years ago) link

I knew someone would know that. I hope someone else gets involved. Begs2Differ? This is an ecumenical topic. The form may have started in Cuba, but it certainly has taken roots elsewhere (including Mexico).

Rocksit Scientist, Monday, 29 March 2004 14:13 (eighteen years ago) link


A universal, sentimental ballad style, rooted in Spanish-derived African-infl. fusion from Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, later Mexico; the Puerto Rican style more closely related to its Spanish root than syncopated Cuban. The visit of an Italian opera company to Cuba 1842 is still heard in the high, passionate voices of best exponents of bolero; Cuban middle classes exported it back to Europe in a slowed-down style which held sway in salons and dance halls for decades, infl. heard in songs by George Gershwin, Xavier Cugat; still traces in USA country music, especially in the work of Freddy Fender, Linda Ronstadt, Maria Muldaur. (Marice Ravel's Bol‚ro '27 was an instrumental experiment in dynamics having little to do with the Latin style.) In the '50s Celia Cruz and Tito Rodriguez combined the smooth romantic qualities of bolero singing with the improvisational nature of mambos, rumbas etc; they remain among the foremost exponents on record.

Musicweb Encyclopedia

Rockist Scientist, Monday, 29 March 2004 14:16 (eighteen years ago) link

Speaking of "little to do with the Latin style" (sorry, but this is all I can contribute to the subject), Chopin also wrote a Bolero (Op. 19, early 1830s).

I'd be interested to know which songs by Linda Ronstadt exhibit the clearest traces of Bolero elements.

Paul in Santa Cruz (Paul in Santa Cruz), Monday, 29 March 2004 15:04 (eighteen years ago) link

Mayte Martin: Free Boleros.

Go buy.

Jay Kid (Jay K), Monday, 29 March 2004 19:29 (eighteen years ago) link

La Lupe's "Amor Gitano" is great, and she doesn't really fall back on camp in this one. Her voice is terrific here, and at times I think I detect stylings that Diamanda Galas has borrowed from.

Rockist Scientist (rockistscientist), Tuesday, 30 March 2004 02:32 (eighteen years ago) link

two months pass...
I listened to this again last night. Really powerful and moving. I found this on slsk, incidentally.

Rockist Scientist, Wednesday, 16 June 2004 17:39 (eighteen years ago) link

three months pass...
I'm listening to the Lucho Gatica collection I just bought. I recognize one song, "Historia de un Amor" from a Tish Hinojosa cover. I was just thinking yesterday that I might go see her at the Tin Angel in October. It's been a while since I've seen her. That's a bit of a digression, since she is not a bolerista, or not primarily. (Does she even sing it as a bolero? I will have to give another listen.) Actually, this is the third time I've heard a song from her album Aquella Noche (which I suddenly realize is underrated) turn up in a different style. That was also where I first heard "Malaguena Salerosa" (which Eddie Palmieri remade into a salsa club hit around the time I started dancing) and "La Llorna" (which exists in a really good guajira or maybe cha cha cha cover on an Azuquita album from the 70's).

Rockist_Scientist (rockist_scientist), Saturday, 18 September 2004 00:19 (eighteen years ago) link

Also, the bolero cuts on La Lupe's Queen of Latin Soul are all terrific.

The Lucho Gatica songs are very sentimental and the sound is undeniably dates, but I like him.

Rockist_Scientist (rockist_scientist), Saturday, 18 September 2004 00:21 (eighteen years ago) link

eight months pass...
I'm no expert, but the boleros on the new/forthcoming (depending on where you are) Juan de Carlos Afro Cuban All Stars CD, Step Ahead, sound like they are going to be pretty good. I've never especially liked what I've heard by the Afro Cuban All Stars, but I keep circling back around this CD.

RS (Catalino) LaRue (RSLaRue), Wednesday, 15 June 2005 23:27 (seventeen years ago) link

Agustin Lara. My mom's favorite and, if you're (a) romantic, unbeatable. Search any recordings of Lara voice+piano.

Jay Vee (Manon_70), Thursday, 16 June 2005 01:50 (seventeen years ago) link

three months pass...
I've just downloaded over six and a half hours of the stuff (from the 70s alone!).

Rockist_Scientist (RSLaRue), Monday, 10 October 2005 20:59 (seventeen years ago) link

I have no idea who any of these people are.

Rockist_Scientist (RSLaRue), Monday, 10 October 2005 21:01 (seventeen years ago) link

Duo Dinamico sound a little like the Byrds.

Rockist_Scientist (RSLaRue), Monday, 10 October 2005 21:03 (seventeen years ago) link

I'm not an expert, but this page, with an overview of the bolero, seems very convincingly authoritative to me:

Rockist_Scientist (RSLaRue), Wednesday, 19 October 2005 01:12 (seventeen years ago) link

two months pass...
I'm listening to Boleromania, and it's kind of exciting to be listening to one voice after another, none of which I recognize so far. On the other hand, four discs of this stuff will probably be enough boleros for a while. (I have a feeling that when all is said and done, I will tend to prefer the Fania era boleristas, relatively late in the history of the genre.)

Rockist_Scientist (RSLaRue), Thursday, 22 December 2005 00:08 (seventeen years ago) link

Discs 3 and 4, mostly small conjunto settings for Cuban and Puerto Rican boleristas, are very very good. Disc 1, mostly Cuban recordings, but with seemingly more borrowing from U.S. pop music of the time, and lots of strings, is good. Disc 2 is just okay (mostly Mexican boleristas, playing guitars--sorry, haikunym), so far anyway. Disc 4 has a fantastic bolero/cha cha cha performed by Bobby Capó. I'm extremely pleased with this set overall.

Rockist_Scientist (RSLaRue), Friday, 23 December 2005 02:11 (seventeen years ago) link

one year passes...

R_S (RSLaRue), Tuesday, 23 January 2007 14:31 (sixteen years ago) link

nine years pass...

I don't say too much about this partly because what is there to say about a retro all-bolero album in 2016? Miramar nails a certain sound, with great attention to detail. All the boleros are either by Sylvia Rexach, a Puerto Rican bolero composer, or are in tribute to her.

An original from Miramar (kind of reminds me of early 70s solo Bryan Ferry at the beginning):

What can you say about bolero? It's an old genre, but it might be the ultimate specifically romantic genre ever.

_Rudipherous_, Thursday, 22 December 2016 14:55 (six years ago) link

OK, well they aren't always romantic really. The description I copied earlier in the thread is better. Still makes the ultimate romantic genre, even if it isn't always romantic.

_Rudipherous_, Thursday, 22 December 2016 15:01 (six years ago) link

_Rudipherous_, Wednesday, 28 December 2016 22:32 (six years ago) link

I like how they list him as the composer though. Arranger maybe. Sylvia Rexach was the composer. He knows that but whoever put the credits up doesn't seem to.

_Rudipherous_, Wednesday, 28 December 2016 22:39 (six years ago) link

And I might as well throw in this bolero written by iLe's grandmother, from another 2016 album which is at least somewhat bolero oriented:

_Rudipherous_, Wednesday, 28 December 2016 22:42 (six years ago) link

iLe, formerly PG-13 of Calle 13.

_Rudipherous_, Wednesday, 28 December 2016 22:42 (six years ago) link

five years pass...

NY Times Overlooked series of obits on people they uh overlooked this week covers Puerto Rican bolero singer Sylvia Rexach who died at 39 in 1961

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 20 September 2022 02:54 (four months ago) link

two months pass...

I love Los Panchos with and without Eydie Gormé, but those records with Eydie Gormé are extra-special.

Agustin Lara. My mom's favorite and, if you're (a) romantic, unbeatable. Search any recordings of Lara voice+piano.

Seconded. His songs and voice are amazing. Sometimes I find another classic that turns out to be originally by him. Like “Piensa en mí.” Maybe his sister wrote it?

Meet Me in the Z'Ha'Dum (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 25 November 2022 15:44 (two months ago) link

Most likely a co-write between the two of them. Seems to be from a film and he’s in it!

Meet Me in the Z'Ha'Dum (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 25 November 2022 17:27 (two months ago) link

Agustín Lara was also the second husband of María Félix.

Meet Me in the Z'Ha'Dum (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 25 November 2022 17:38 (two months ago) link

RIP Cuban nuevo trovo and bolero singer Pablo Milanes

curmudgeon, Sunday, 27 November 2022 05:45 (two months ago) link

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