For me, the small Latin folk musical group called Cascada de Flores has been a delicious discovery of retro acoustic music with Mexican and Caribbean roots.
As they say in the liner notes of “Radio Flor”, their 4th album, this is a trip back in time to our grandparents’ living room, where the radio is booming with great music and the occasional humorous voice ads. “Radio Flor” is a trip into nostalgia, into our musical past and heritage, but with the respect and elegance that it deserves.
The nostalgia trips include the radio broadcasts of the 1st part of the 20th century, when radio shows preceded TV shows. Cascada de Flores captured the essence of those radio shows by recording live, with the full ensemble playing together in the recording studio. What a great idea this turned out to be! I loved the way the music sounds and the evident love with which each musician performs, which permeates through the speakers and into your ears.
The Cascada de Flores ensemble is based in the U.S. west coast Bay Area, and it’s integrated by:
Arwen Lawrence: voice, rhythm guitars & dance
Jorge Liceaga: voice, lead guitars
Saul Sierra-Alonso: double bass, leoncita & chorus
Marco Díaz: trumpet, piano, & chorus
Brian Rice: percussion and chorus
And “Radio Flor” is all of that; a trip to nostalgia, by the music, by the instruments, by the love and passions in each song performed, just like it was in yesteryear; in the years of our “abuelos”!
A Great Acoustical Latin Music Trip trough Mexico and the Caribbean
Great acoustical music – this small ensemble of traditional Mexican and Cuban music is just mesmerizing. You can’t help but love the “unplugged” sound of the Cascada de Flores ensemble. The fact that they record “live” all together gives its music a lot of authenticity.
Varied Song Selection – “Radio Flor” contains 13 songs and 5 well spread “Radio Clips”, each of which resembles a piece of a old radio broadcast in between live performed songs. These “radio clips” provide “Radio Flor” a nice ambience of this being a true broadcast from the past; a reminder of the album’s theme.
The songs cover music mostly from Mexico and Cuba, although I did notice a Dominican merengue rhythm in “Jardinero de Amor”. The rest of the songs vary in Latin music genre, from rancheras/corrido, boleros, son, danzón, and even haupango. The song selection, from song writers like José Antonio Mendez and Agustín Lara, is fantastic.
Great singing – beyond having a beautiful voice, Arwen can give each song the right tone of happiness, romanticism by the passion with which she sings. At times, her enunciation reminds me of the late Eydie Gormé.
My Favorite Song – I liked many songs in “Radio Flor”, but “With a Song in My Heart”, the only American song in the album, wins me over. This song showcases the talent and creativity in the Cascada de Flores group. The song is a 1929 tune from a Broadway musical, that since has been songs by many and even a film was made after it. But…what Cascada de Flores does differently is that it converts it majestically into a beautiful Danzón, in a way that the core of the song doesn’t loose it’s original essence, and its mixed with the Caribbean flavor the album theme has. The only Danzón in the album is performed excellently by these West Coast ensemble.
Video “With a Song in My Heart” (Danzón):
As I said, this is my favorite song in the album, and I was fortunate to find a video of Cascada de Flores performing it.
Additional Opportunities for “Radio Flor”
Expand to other Latin American music classics – the only opportunity I see missed in “Radio Flor” is that it does not include a more broad song selection from other Latin countries. With their very same format, Cascade de Flores could easily include songs from the Puerto Rican, Dominican, and Central and South American songbook. I assume that perhaps they focus on songs from Mexico and Cuba because of their ancestry, but including 2 or 3 songs form other countries may grant them more followers from other Latin music fans.
“Radio Flor” is an Enjoyable Latin Music Album
I highly recommend “Radio Flor” to those that like old Latin American music. The boleros, the danzón, the corridos; everything sounds incredibly authentic, and you can feel the love, passion, and talent this small “unplugged” ensemble brings to the recording!
I just discovered Cascada de Flores with their 4th album”Radio Flor”, which was sent to me to write a review blog for you. Now I can’t wait to go find and listen to the other 3 albums they have, “13 Historias” (2009), “Mi Sueño” (2007), and “Puente a la Mar” (2002).
This Sunday morning I’m putting on “Radio Flor” to start my day relaxing with this beautiful music!