Los Pleneros De La 21 / El Quinteto Criollo, Para Todos Ustedes

Chris Nickson

By Chris Nickson

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
The perfect summer album: full of plena and bomba rhythms you’ll quickly fall in love with — if you haven’t already.

Most of Los Pleneros De La 21 were raised in Puerto Rico, and stick close to their roots with plenty of plena and bomba rhythms here, performed with a wonderful energy and sense of adventure that draws heavily on jazz to spice up the mix. It's a sparkling update of the island tradition, tempered by the Big Apple and a smidgen of salsa, especial on “Patria Borinqueña.” Throughout, this is strictly rhythm-driven, but there's plenty of melody, too, with gloriously rough and ready vocal harmonies that add to the disc's charm; there's more of a feeling of a joyful descarga, or jam, than a crafted, glossy record. The playing is superb — just listen to guest trombonist Papa Vásquaz's brief solo on the jumping “Madame Calalú," for instance — but Los Pleneros have long proved their ability. As this album shows, home is where the heart is.