September 2001

Rick Treviņo- Mi Son
Vanguard 79592-2
Released: 2001

by Wes Philips

Musical Performance ****
Recording Quality ****1/2
Overall Enjoyment ****1/2

[Reviewed on CD]Rick Treviņo, the vocalist from Los Super Seven, assays a spirited and art-y collection of songs in Spanish (and one in English) from around the world in Mi Son. He surrounds himself here with fellow members of Los Super Seven (David Hidalgo, Cesar Rosas, Ruben Ramos) and other experimental Hispanic/world music types (Steve Berlin, Cougar Estrada, Alberto Salas, Raul Malo) to create an intensely dreamy, richly textured recording that not so coincidentally reveals the remarkable depth of contemporary Spanish song.

Whatever that phrase means to you, Mi Son will confound your expectations. The songs range from the wisp-of-a-melody "Vuelvo Al Sur," written by Astor Piazzolla and Fernando Salas, to the spirited Cuban danzon "El Tira y Jala." Treviņo and his cohorts create a rich musical backdrop to the songs, ranging from sparse and unsentimental (for the Piazzolla) to full out Latin jazz ("El Tira y Jala") to pure country ("The Long Goodbye").

Throughout, Treviņo's supple tenor is the star. It's a lovely voice, and his Spanish is clear and easy to understand -- even for us gringos. Conflicting stories abound as to just how fluent Treviņo originally was in the language: Born in the US of Mexican parents, he began his country career as a tilde-less Rick Trevino, and it's been said that he only learned English as an adult. But even early on, he released his records in Spanish and English versions -- so I expect that the rumors have been exaggerated for dramatic effect.

The proof is in the listening, of course, and that's where the album is a stone winner. Ultimately, the whole language question is a non-starter -- all you end up noticing is that Mi Son is an album of beautiful songs, performed flawlessly. As an added bonus, it's also remarkably well recorded. The sound is full and clear, with deep bass and an exquisitely rendered soundstage that is both deep and wide.

If you're ready to be taken away by beautiful music that'll make you want to get up and get down -- and if you're adventurous enough to try something completely different -- Mi Son is probably exactly what you're looking for. And if it's not, there're are worse ways to amuse yourself while you wait.