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La Gran Pelea – Frank Oropesa, Raúl González & Son De Oro

£7.00£9.50

Frank Oropesa tells me La Gran Pelea (the big fight), 

is his brainchild, a contest of 7 themes each, between himself and another composer, Raúl González. Frank is director and bongocero of the Septeto Nacional while Raúl, who passed through the renowned rumba group, Clave y Guaguancó, is also a percussion teacher and rumbero. The even numbered tracks are Franks.
Their songs are interpreted by Son De Oro, of which Oropesa is also bongocero. The band is tight, professional and swings in a bygone style. Soneros are Gustavo Oliva, William Borrego, Emilio Moret, William Valdez, Hiram Jova. Crispin Diaz , Dagoberto Sacerio. Says a coro of the title track, “in this big fight there is no victor.” Maybe not, but the Cuban music public definitely wins.
La Gran Pelea may be old school but much of it sounds very fresh. Several tracks are exceptional. It sounds like a three piece percussion section plus maracas, giving a very choppy, pre-Salsa sound. Brass features prominent trumpet but there’s a ‘bone in there. Strings also feature on at least one track, Fiel Espejo. Many largos are bright and jolly, but in the best tracks, they prepare the way for intense montunos with beautiful coros. Reference to Arsenio Rodriguez and Chappotín goes beyond Al Gran Arsenio. Tracks such as El Patio Del Bailador feature bass and left hand piano straight out of Conjunto Chappotín.
If inevitably some songs are less interesting musically than others, they are at least well arranged. 10 tracks are arranged by Dagoberto Sacerio, the remaining 4 by the group’s pianist,  Orlando Perez Landy.
As for the top picks, for me, apart from Al Gran Arsenio, Lo Que Me Dijo Changó is a complete beauty, El Sofocado not far behind. There’s a host of other good tracks too. If for me Raúl González wins on points, it was close and really should be decided by a rematch.
Nice to know traditional music is alive and kicking at its Son and Guaracha roots. The best offering of traditional Son I’ve heard in a while. Highly recommended for lovers of old school Son and Salsa 
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  •     01 La Gran Pelea
  •     02 El Patio Del Bailador
  •     03 Fiel Espejo
  •     04 Curramba Tiene Sangunga
  •     05 Al Gran Arsenio
  •     06 Lo Mío Es Vacilar
  •     07 Lo Que Me Dijo Changó
  •     08 No Me Engañes Más
  •     09 Rumba Con Disciplina
  •     10 Cantando En La Valla
  •     11 El Sofocado
  •     12 Cosas Del Destino
  •     13 Deja Correr El Mundo
  •     14 Recoge Y Vete

01 *La Gran Pelea*

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02 *El Patio Del Bailador*

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03 Fiel Espejo

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04 Curramba Tiene Sandunga

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05 **Al Gran Arsenio**

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06 Lo Mío Es Vacilar

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07 **Lo Que Me Dijo Changó**

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08 *No Me Engañes Más*

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09 *Rumba Con Disciplina*

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10 *Cantando En La Valla*

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11 **El Sofocado**

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12 Cosas Del Destino

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13 Deja Correr El Mundo

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14 *Recoge Y Vete*

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