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Madame Calalú

Madame Calalú

An original theme by Don Rafael Cepeda Atiles, the late patriarch of the Puerto Rican bomba and plena, this is one of the plenas that Rafael Cortijo and his combo and the great son singer (sonero) Ismael Rivera made popular in the 1950s. It paints a picture of life in the barrio, and Sammy Tanco captures perfectly the dynamic of repartee in the typical Santurce neighborhood, with all its Afro-Puerto Rican heritage. Influenced by Cortijo's original recording, Juango Gutiérrez begins the theme in a (Cuban) guaracha rhythm, and then falls into the traditional plena rhythm and melody, giving it variety with some fresh chordal coloring, as well as guaracha patterns in the mambo, the section with a more-fixed melody.