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POP MUSIC | RECORD RACK

*** 1/2 ALBITA "Dicen Que," Crescent Moon

September 29, 1996|Enrique Lopetegui

Tito Puente once predicted that when Cuban dance orchestras start coming to the United States on a regular basis, "many of us here will have to go back to school." Well, Albita lives in Miami, but the Cuban-born singer's rich music is so different from any other made-in-the-USA representation of Afro-Cuban music that she is the closest thing to that exuberant sound Puente spoke about.

For too long now, unfortunately, the primary role for women in tropical music has seemingly been posing for album covers. That's why this album is doubly welcome. In "Dicen Que" ("They Say That . . . "), Albita and her mostly female orchestra give us a masterful, no-holds-barred display of why she is arguably the most important Latin singer-songwriter so far in the '90s. The album's best moments explode in rare and irresistible all-female choruses--edgy and innovative.

Much more than a folklorist who simply recycles the pre-salsa roots of Cuban music, Albita demonstrates in this album that she can honor that tradition while injecting her own refreshingly distinct vision.

*

New albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

* TimesLine 808-8463

To hear excerpts from the albums reviewed, call TimesLine and press * and the artist's corresponding four-digit code.

In 805 area code, call (818) 808-8463.

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