July 5 2002

Jorge Moreno: “Moreno”

Pablo de Sainz

In one of those rare musical occasions, where a pretty face and a good body don’t necessarily mean zero-talent, Cuban-American from Miami, Jorge Moreno, presents us “Moreno,” a versatile album, that clearly indicates that young music in Spanish, is much, much than a Ricky or an Enrique.

“Moreno,” produced by Maverick Música, the music label of music in Spanish that belongs to popular singer Madonna, is an album that, besides being Jorge Moreno’s debut, also tells all those artists that mixing genres, such as rock with salsa, doesn’t mean that you’re going to put a little of trumpets with a little of electric guitar, and you stir them and you get a new sound. No: for Moreno, blending different genres, is making a complete fusion with those genres, that they complement, that they take hands and become one.

Is because of this that this album is like taking a course in music history taught by a great teacher. The good stuff in Latinoamerican music, such as bolero, conga, son, come together with and transform with pop, rock and electronic music.

The album is composed of classic songs, such as “Babalú,” “Reloj” and “Como fue,” and of songs that came out of Moreno’s own inspiration. He, at 26, is a songwriter of many lyrics in “Moreno.”

The ballad “despertaré,” is a romantic melody where Moreno’s raspy, strong voice takes dimensions that reminds us of Alejandro Sanz’s, the Spanish singer-composer. The voice in “Despertaré” tells us of a man who just broke up with his lover, but that won’t stop him in his road. This is one of the songs that is playing a lot in the U.S. Spanish-language radio stations.

A song that’s reborn in this album is the funny “Babalú,” made popular by Desi Arnaz in the 50’s popular show “I Love Lucy.” “Babalú” has strong afro-cuban influences, and this new version was presented in the 50th anniversary special for “I Love Lucy” show. Without a doubt, this version is a great tribute to Arnaz, who Moreno describes as an important influence in his musical career.

Another song that stands out from “Moreno,” is “Como fue,” a beautiful bolero:

“Como fue/ no sé decirme que ocurrió/ no sé explicarme que pasó/ pero de tí/ me enamoré”.

This song is a classic in cuban music, that Moreno revitalizes, but without losing the original mystery of the song.

The only English-language track, “16,” doesn’t compare to the other songs in Spanish. Moreno, obviously, works better in Spanish.

According to Latin music critic for the Los Angeles Times, Agustin Gurza, “not since Santa has a U.S.-based Latin performer capture bicultural sensibilities in such a seamless, accessible and original way.”

Moreno is the first singer launched by Maverick music, and it was the same Madonna who gave him the go ahead. But the record label is more interested in Moreno’s musical force, instead of using his body to sell albums.

“Jorge manages to combine the two strands of (Latin and American) music that are at the core of our identity as bilingual latinos,” Gurza said. “You can’t tell where the American part stops and the Latin part starts. Other bands are doing that, but it’s not as accessible as Jorge. He manages to create a really appealing pop mixture.”

Bruno del Granado, Maverick musica’s president, says that Moreno is much more than a good body, and that was important for the label.

From day one we’d been told by Madonna... that this would be an alternative, cutting-edge label,” says Del Granado. “We’re going after a genre of artists who aren’t easy to define. That’s why we could pick a Moreno, because he’s not a pop or a traditional Latin artist, or a true rocker.”

Moreno describes his style this way:

“My music is my music,” says Moreno.” I mix tropical with ballads, boleros with sones, rock en español with British rock... my music is varied, it has everything; is music of life, because that’s how life is: depends on the moment. There are moments in which you feel romantic, other times you just feel like dancing or singing... and I like it when there are songs for each moment.”

“Moreno” is an album that has songs for several moments. When you buy this album, you’ll see the variety: moments to dance, moments to love, moments to remembers.

A great album by Jorge Moreno.

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