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complicidadesBy Jim Parisi 

Eric Clapton once said, “I think of guitar playing as accompaniment. Anything beyond that gets gimmicky”. Apparently, violinist Ricardo Ramirez agrees with Clapton. A member of the Costa Rican Grammy award winning band Editus, Ramirez recently released his first solo endeavor, and I really like the concept of the album. Sr. Ramirez invited fourteen Central American singer/songwriters to bring one of their previously recorded works into the studio, to allow them to experiment with their vocal arrangements. And Ramirez takes care of the rest, the accompaniment. Hence, the title: “Complicidades”.
Jaime Peligro Books and Music

Ricardo’s selection of “accomplices” on the album is a nice vehicle to represent the vast musical styles currently blossoming in Latin America. The CD opens with a song by Evolucion and closes with a number by Ghandi, two of Costa Rica’s most popular rock bands. Between these two “bookends”, the album is spiced with a potpourri of musical flavors. Noted Calypsonian Manuel Monestel checks in with a new version of one of his standards, “El Espejo”.  Alejandro Erdmenger, guitarist from the Guatemalan jazz/flamenco band Siroro offers his song “Tropico de Cancer”, while Argentinan transplant Adrian Goizueta puts a new spin on his previously recorded “La Adavina del Barrio”. And Patricio Torres contributes another take on his “Perfume de America”, which he normally plays with saxophone accompaniment.

Notably, Ramirez has selected several women to bring their songs to the table as well. Uba Mason is the wife of Ruben Blades who has worked with Editus on many occasions. It’s a cool twist that Uba has chosen one of Blades’ songs, “The Calm Before the Storm”, which he co-wrote with Lou Reed. It is the single song on the disc that is not written by the singer and the only one sung in English. But then, Uba’s husband and Ramirez’ band share a history that includes an Emmy award, so I think she might have been allowed to modify the concept for the album a little. Besides, the result is a stellar version of the song.

Pamela Robin has opened for Editus on several of their national tours. Ricardo Ramirez must have seen and heard something he liked, because she also received an invitation to participate on this project, responding with “Los Dias”. And famed Costa Rican songstress Maria Pretiz renders an incredible new version of her “El Oficio de Esperar”.

Speaking of Editus, I think Ramirez used good judgment in not including the other two members of the band on this solo disc, if for no other reason than to display its uniqueness. Ramirez has been quoted as saying that this project is the most satisfying work he has done outside his twenty year relationship with Editus, which lends credence to this project’s complete separation from that band. It’s nice to see an artist develop a concept and take a chance with it by having the faith to plunge into it one hundred percent. It’s easy to feel this elation in the finished product of Ricardo Ramirez’ “Complicidades”.

In Playa Tamarindo, “Complicidades”, as well as all the Editus CDs are available exclusively at Jaime Peligro, where they will gladly sample the music for their customers.


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