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Cuban, flamenco, rumba flamenco, salsa, Latin jazz are just a few of the many kinds of music that can be defined as Latin. I was first exposed to Cuban music growing up in Miami. Over time, I've discovered more and more.

The Classic Meets Cuba series became popular around the world and for good reason - the mix of jazz and classical with Cuban rhythms is a fun sound to listen to. The Klazz Brothers and the Cuban musicians playing with them do it flawlessly. The first cd got me hooked. Jazz Meets Cuba is even better. Symphonic Salsa was released in 2005 - we got it as soon as it came out. What a cool fusion of classic and salsa. Great music for road trips!

Cuban/South American Golden Greats is a three disc collection of Latin greats. Cuba Legends is a two disc collection of Cuban music. Armik is a Spanish flamenco master. This cd, Rubia, is a great introduction to flamenco.

A band from France playing Latin rhythms? Yes and no one does it like they do. "Volare! The Best Of The Gipsy Kings" is a 2 disc compilation that was released in 1999. The Gipsy Kings are around since the 80's and helped popularize Latin music in the US and Europe like no one else. I look forward to getting more of their cd's. Remember their version of Hotel California from the bowling scene in The Big Lebowski?

Two Israeli compilations of Spanish music - The Latin Collection and Spanish Love.

The back cover to Putumayo's Latin Lounge cds says, "Tango, cumbia and son meet electronica in this collection of contemporary chill-out grooves." Exactly. I got this and five other Putumayo cds in December 2005. The Lounge series ("contemporary chill-out grooves") impresses me - this and the Asian one below will show you why Putumayo is a step above the rest when it comes to world music. The selections are all so good - even if the genre is new to you, it'll take you in. Latin Lounge was released in September 2005.

The 5 cd Latin Jazz was a great find at an Eilat music store. It cost what one cd goes for and and like it says on the back - more than 4 and 1/2 hours of music. The more I hear Latin Jazz, the more I like it. Latin rhythms and beats are just what jazz needed! The colorful box and cd envelopes add to it. The only thing missing is a cd booklet about Latin Jazz and the musicians who appear on this box set.

Thanks to The Gipsy Kings, most people have heard rumba flamenco. What is it that reels me in? The intense rhythms. The back of Rumba Flamenco reads, "The passion of flamenco and Latin rhythms unite to create a sensual and soulful musical fusion."

Mo Vida is a play-on-words that means "More Life". The idea is a compilation which covers new salsa and Latin groove. The sound is modern and brash. The back of Latin Groove reads, "Salsa and Cuban son join funk, hip-hop and electronics for a cutting edge Latin dance party." I'm a tough customer with dance music. What did it? The strong Latin rhythms and beats. Afro-Peruvian Classics - The Soul of Black Peru is yet another brilliant compilation from Luaka Bop. It opens with Susana Baca singing the Afro-Peruvian classic Maria Lando. Like many Luaka Bop cd's, the booklet comes in two languages - you flip the booklet for the Spanish. Smooth rhythms!

We spent a month in Buenos Aires while in South America in 2007. A friend we met in Puerto Iguazu recommended we stay at Hostel Sol, so we did. We had a private room for $14 a night. We were lucky - Hostel Sol had friendly and fun travellers staying there at that time. Argentinians and Chileans were there to see the Roger Waters show, a Mexican friend told us all we needed to know about culture and music in Buenos Aires. We also met Germans, Americans, Irish and others who we traded travel stories and visited the markets and neighborhoods of Buenos Aires with.

One bonus at Hostel Sol was the free tango lessons. Five nights a week, Rolando gave us an hour of his time. He was a class act - a gentlemen who was a professional tango instructor. We still remember the steps we learned. Thanks to Rolando and our time in Buenos Aires, we became fans of tango music. Tango has a romantic melancholy sound to it.

Astor Piazzolla is the maestro of tango. We bought his greatest hits while in Buenos Aires. The cd next to it is from a 10 disc box set that I bought in the spring of 2008 in Eilat. We also bought Tango Jazz in Buenos Aires. Glad we did - I love the mix of tango and jazz.

I bought Mana Essenciales - Sol in Salta, Argentina. The music store had three different Mana greatest hits cd's and this one had a cover of Led Zeppelin's Fool In The Rain. The Latin beat works fine on this rhythmic Led Zeppelin song. We bought a cd of Dario Gomez and Galy Galiano in Popayan, Colombia. Gomez is Colombian and Galiano is Mexican. Both sing romantic songs which remind me of the Argentinian desert and the scenic views we saw in Colombia.

I bought these Latin Jazz cd's on Ebay in early 2008. Can't get enough Latin Jazz! The Christmas theme is a pleasant listen. Soul Cookin' has songs with funny lyrics that remind me of Calypso. World music fans waited years for Putumayo's Latin Jazz and in 2007 they finally released this cd. The artwork on all three of these was so nice I couldn't dare resize them too small!

Ultimate Salsa is a four disc box set that we bought in Eilat in the spring of 2008. I hope to get a few more Salsa collections over the next few years. When I listen to Salsa, I hear a mix of old and new Latin music.

I bought Cafe Cubano and Tango - The Legends in Arad (our new home in Israel's desert) in August 2008. Cafe Cubano is a 2008 Putumayo release and Tango - The Legends is a two disc collection of old, classic Tango.

I bought Flute Music Of The Andes in Beersheva in February 2009. There isn't much information on the cd, but I found this on the web - "Traditional music of the Andes region performed by Peruvian artists." The inside cover mentions the Aztec Indians. Andean music is about the Incas, not the Aztecs. The sound reminds me of the music we heard and saw during our month and a half in Bolivia. Ambient Andes.

Carnegie Hall - The After Show Recordings is a must have for fans of Cuban music. In 1998, the Buena Vista Social Club went on a tour of the US, culminating with a show at Carnegie Hall. Cuban musicians had not been able to play with Cuban musicians living in the US for decades. After the show, the Buena Vista musicians got together with their Cuban-American counterparts and this cd is the result of that late night.

Musicians include Ibrahim Ferrer, Pio Leiva, Manuel Licea, Guajiro Mirabal, Amadito Valdes, Cachaito, Juan Pablo Torres, Joaquien Olivero and Alfredo Valdes Jr. The story of Castro's Cuba is a sad one. Imagine the great things that will happen to Cuban music when Cuba is a democracy one day?! This cd is a glimpse of that potential.

And the music? It leaves you wanting more.

And what about the next generation of Cuban music? What will they do with the torch that the Buena Vista generation passed onto them? From the sounds of this cd, they're cool, confident and full of rhythm. So many names appear here that I won't list them. That's what's so cool about Cuban music - its never a one man band. Cuban music is big band with a Latin and tropical touch!

The booklet that comes with Sons of Buena Vista is excellent - the story behind the music with nostalgic photos of Havana and information about the musicians. I like these thick booklets that educate you while you listen.

Luis Frank Arias & Guillermo Rubalcaba - Noches Cubanas en el Cafe del Mar. Rubalcaba is one of the masters from Buena Vista and Arias is from today's generation of Cuban musicians. Rubalcaba provides a moving and powerful piano to Arias's emotional vocals. Its a good break from big band Cuban music - two musicians playing the classics. Perfect for a cloudy day.

The booklet here is excellent too - with lots of information and terrific photography. The only thing missing is the date of the recording.

Orquesta Termidor - Un Bolero Para El Benny is a tribute to Cuban singer Benny More. Luis Frank Arias sings and the songs are Cuban big band 1950's - a classic era which is always fun to revisit. Arias does it with respect and style with his tropical voice! I love big band lately and this Cuban flavor is a great addition to my collection.

Azteca - From The Ruins is the summer of 2007 reunion of 70's Latin rock band Azteca. The Escoveda brothers founded Aztec after leaving Santana. Their sound was unique at the time - Latin rock accompanied by up to 25 musicians. They recorded two records for Colombia and time passed. Its cool to hear Latin rock with a big band sound. Latin rock is different than classic rock - if the lyrics are complaining about something, you wouldn't know it from the positive beat!

The WDR Big Band is a German jazz ensemble that has won awards and played all over the world. They can trace their origins to a 1947 band and today they specialize in Latin jazz and world jazz. A deep, but relaxing listen. The cd comes with a terrific booklet with info in English and German - and of course photos of the band in rehearsal and in action. I love Afro-Cuban music and this German band gives it some respect!

From Connector to Misa Afro Cubana, we have a mini-collection of cd's from Wienerworld. Check out a page dedicated to this cool World Music label.

World Music Forever was created by Kenny Sahr. Be sure to visit Sixties Collection and my personal site.