Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Ernesto Lacuona - Lacuona Plays Lacuonadotdotdotdot
artworkCuban composer Ernesto Lacuona has contributed many fine melodies to surf and the music word at large. In 1955, RCA brought him from Cuba to New York to record this album. He plays 18 of his own songs on solo piano. The music is stunningly seductive. No, it's not surf, but sometimes you just need to go back to the source to appreciate just how special surf music is.
Picks: Malaguena, Andalucia, Ante El Escorial, San Francisco El Grande, Siempre En Mi Corazon, Maria La O, Siboney, Noche Azul, La Comparsa, Danza Negra, Danza Lucumi, La Antigua, En Tres Por Cuatro, Canto Del Guajiro, La Habanera, Damisela Encantadora, Crisantemo, Romantico

Track by Track Review


Malaguena dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Malaguena" is often reduced to an extraction of a couple of bars. In complete form, the emotional content is much higher, and the shear beauty of the song overwhelming. Ernesto Lacuona is not just a fine writer, he also plays piano very well.

Andalucia dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Another song that has often been covered by surfbands is "Andalucia," more commonly known as "The Breeze and I." In Ernesto Lacuona's own hand, it's quite different. faster and more fanciful, the song takes on a playful and flighty sound.

Ante El Escorial dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Ante El Escorial" is a dramatic and romantic song with a kind of piano bar feel, yet it's much more classical than that. Haunting and dynamic.

San Francisco El Grande dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"San Francisco El Grande" moves slowly along a dramatically intense line, much like "Malaguena" or "The Breeze and I," but more delicate. Quite beautiful.

Siempre En Mi Corazon dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This seems less interesting, though it seems to foreshadow Ferrante and Teischer in some respects. It has a kind of "Autumn Leaves" quality to it.

Maria La O dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Moody with an exotic edge, like a gypsy caravan. Moody and slightly sad, yet compellingly beautiful with a sense of fate unavoidable being lifted by the light of dawn. Excellent!

Siboney dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

many a surfband has covered "Siboney," starting with Johnny Fortune. Big, dramatic, rolling, sad, and very emotional. This is really quite something.

Noche Azul dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A lot like parts of "Andalucia," "Noche Azul" moves with an optimistic sadness. Delicate and fluid, and full of emotion.

La Comparsa dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A gentle rhythm of the Middle east runs on the bass keys while a delicate and breezy melody line floats over the top. Mysterious and wistful, with a haunting attractiveness.

Danza Negra dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Danza Negra" is a very emotional and dramatic song with an almost stiff meter. The keyboard seems to want to be a harpsichord, yet the tone is acoustic piano. Quite unusual.

Danza Lucumi dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A kind of Hugo Winterhalter feeling emotes from "Danza Lucumi" as Ernesto Lacuona plays piano beautifully. A sad, slightly wintery image evolves from the keyboard.

La Antigua dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"La Antigua" is almost morose in it's emotionalism, yet is delicate and fluid. Moody almost to the point of depressing. You'll need a hanky on this one.

En Tres Por Cuatro dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Big drama, approaching pompous. Not very melodic if you're expecting "Malaguena," but attractive nonetheless.

Canto Del Guajiro dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Snow gently falls on the city grounds inside the wall, but outside the gates of the palace. Gypsies and gentry collide in a ballet of deception. Quite interesting in a thematic film score way.

La Habanera dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"La Habanera" is the sort of piano piece that can run easily in a dinning room while guests ignore every note. Not meaningless at all, but not commanding of your attention either.

Damisela Encantadora dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a more playful song, with a childish prance about it that coexists with a mature fatalism. It has an innocence about it, a non-recognition of the burdens of life.

Crisantemo dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Soft and brook-like, "Crisantemo" just rolls off the keys in a variation on a theme of gentle rain and a fireside read.

Romantico dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

the title says it - sorta - "Romantico" is romantic, but not beautiful in the sense of alluring preludes to romance. It's more about the ups and downs of the heart.