Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Ibrahim Ferrer: Mi Sueño

Selection from Jim Harrington's Top 10 jazz records of last year.
1. "Mi Sueno," Ibrahim Ferrer (World Circuit/Nonesuch) -- The title translates to "My Dream," a reference to Ferrer's lifelong ambition to record an entire album of boleros. That dream remained just that for decades, due to a widely held belief in the industry that his voice wasn't the right fit for the deeply romantic style of Latin music, but he finally got the chance to record such an album. Unfortunately, the Cuban vocalist, who came to fame as part of the "Buena Vista Social Club" documentary film and recordings, died in 2005 before he could put the finishing touches on the album. From his deathbed, as the story goes, the 78-year-old star dictated a letter asking that "Mi Sueno" be completed in his absence.

Two years later, the album finally surfaces, and it's nothing less than an absolute dream. The tracks are all breathtaking, and Ferrer's performance, in my mind, further cements his place among the very best singers in history. "Mi Sueno" is a work of understated elegance, yet bursting with romance, and it's the single greatest new disc -- of any genre -- that I heard in 2007.

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