¡Con Piano, Sublime! : Early Recordings from the Caribbean 1907-1921 is $18.00 plus shipping

A collection of lost & found recordings of Caribbean artists from the turn of the 20th century, most of which have never been reissued in any form since their original 78rpm pressings over 100 years ago. Languishing in the grooves of forgotten shellac for over a century, the songs collected here represent rare examples of early danzon, calypso, trova, kalenda and more from Cuba, Trinidad, and Puerto Rico, lovingly remastered and presented with detailed liner notes and rare photos

Rather than lumping them all together under the arbitrary heading of “Caribbean music”, this collection seeks the opposite: provide a sense of the fascinating variety of sounds that were captured across the islands at the dawn of the commercial recording industry. Son quintets and Puerto Rican string bands are placed alongside West Indian piano solos. San Juan schoolgirls croon next to Havana military bands. Calypsonians and melancholy folk singers rub shoulders with Trinidadian stickfighting gangs. Glamorous hotel dance bands share space next to peasant groups playing percussive farm equipment, all singing to us across the span of a century.

Some of the musicians here are legends who achieved fame and fortune. Others remained obscure, leaving behind few traces other than the voices captured for all time on these spellbinding recordings. At the turn of the 20th century, the first commercial recordings of Caribbean music were just beginning to be made. At a unique moment in history, as these islands were entering a new era that would bring joy and sadness, victory and defeat, unity and division, exploitation and development, these were some of the sounds that echoed through cities, fields, streets, harbors, restaurants, dance halls, schoolhouses and saloons.

If many of the selections do not present a linear storyline about the development of a single nation, sound or style, they instead are chosen for their spiritual connections, the poetic relationships between the century-old sounds of anger, sadness, lyricism, ambition, pride, melancholy, mystery, and joy captured in these ephemeral performances .

LP version is 140g black vinyl with extensive liner notes