Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Francisco Ulloa - obscure CD review

Knowing my passion for the diatonic button accordion, our friends Ardis and Claude presented me with a copy of a 1992 album, !ULTRAMERENGUE! by Francisco Ulloa. The best way to approach this is to quote from the delightful liner notes:
"Y CON USTEDES - FRANCISCO ULLOA! is the nightly introduction by Yovanni, conga player to the relentless and compulsive rhythms of Latin America's fastest dance music - the merengue from the Dominican Republic. Francisco Ulloa's six-piece conjunto, play merengue tipico, traditional merengue, led by the accordion, and their music is so tight that a razonr blade wouldn't fit between the notes. Two deceptively simple phrases on the squeezebox and they're off. The music sweeps you along like a roller-coaster; it's so fast you hardly have time to breathe. Before you know it, you're holding the nearest availale partner as tight as decency allows, losing yourself in the true story love-lyrics and biting rhythms, and doing the gliding two-step that's made merengue the latest latin dance craze."

....and....."It's time for the squeezebox master to do his solo. Francisco flashes an almost devilish, irresistible smile, and , with a hint of a wiggle to his hips, begins frenetically pulling and pushing the black canvas gills of his lacqueered accordion, like someone possessed, fingers flying across the double row of buttins, faster that the eye can see, in a series of precise arpeggio phrases and zigzaggy runs. The audience is spellbound - can he really be playing that fast: is there really only one accordionist there? And that voice! Rich and raspy, full of sentiment, the sensual and sincere voice of sunshine and tropical landscapes."

There isn't much to add. Ulloa's squeezebox of choice is the two-row Hohner Erica, the same box many Newfie players like. This material is unrelenting, and masterfully played. For me, it has served as an introduction to merengue, and I'm looking forward to hearing more.

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