leticia rodriguez garzaThis is a story of songs passing through generations, and doing so with effervescsent style.

Label: Independent
Time: 4 tracks / 14 mins.

Back in the 1940s and 1950s, Eva Garza was in the vanguard of internationally recorded bilingual artists to cross over in the United States, recording some 200 songs for major labels, making more than 20 films and becoming the first Latin American artist to have her own radio show.

An established singer, dancer, choreographer and more, her Texan niece Leticia Rodriguez Garza began collecting background information for her one-woman show Canciones for Generations and came across her work.

The new song on the EP is "Sagüita Al Bate," one of her aunt's biggest songs. Written by a Cuban, about a baseball player, it is filled with double-entendres, which is not surprising even to those of us who don't speak Cuban, given the cheekiness of the delivery. Originally written as a mambo, this version sees it played as a cumbia/salsa, with horns in a Mariachi-like style. It's the sort of song you might imagine her singing with a wink or two.

The other three pieces are from her album La Americana. "Milonga Sentimental," complete with lashings of accordion and a fine acoustic guitar solo, sees her reveal the Edith Piaf in her voice; the melodic "La Cumancha" is heavy on the percussion and Latin groove; while "Incertidumbre" slows things down to easy love ballad tempo.

It is very much a niche recording, but it is by no means an amateur family tribute. Her aunt's vocal prowess has passed through the bloodline and Rodriguez Garza sings powerfully and with character. Her backing band (including Grammy-nominated guitarist Joe Reyes) show their talents with a clean and highly spirited performance. While these effervescent songs are clearly from the past, they will resonate with an audience that loves Latin music.

3nhalf(or more)
Derek Walker

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