Friday, May 22, 2009

Juan Luis Guerra and memories of great coffee and friends

Many years ago I was introduced to the wonderful music of Juan Luis Guerra by a dear friend from the Dominican Republic, who I had the good fortune to meet and work with at Victor Chandler International, a firm of offshore bookies (or sportsbook to our American cousins) in Gibraltar during my time there in the late 90's.

Juan Luis Guerra-Seijas (born June 7, 1957) is a Dominican singer, songwriter and self-producer who has sold over 20 million records worldwide and has won numerous awards, including eleven Grammy and Latin Grammy Awards, and two Latin Billboard Music Awards. He won 5 Latin Grammy awards in 2007 in the same night which ties him with Juanes to hold the record for most Latin Grammys won in one night. He was born in Santo Domingo and is the son of Olga Seijas and Gilberto Guerra, a basketball player.

He is one of the most internationally recognized Dominican artists in decades. His pop style of merengue and bolero and Afro-pop/Latin fusion have garnered him considerable success outside the Dominican Republic.

Juan Luis Guerra is sometimes associated with the popular Dominican music called bachata and while this association is partially true, he actually uses the basics of Bachata rhythm with a more bolero feel to the melodies in some of his songs.

He does not limit himself to one style of music, instead, he incorporates diverse rhythms like merengue, bolero-bachata, balada, salsa, rock and roll and gospel.

'Ojalá Que Llueva Café' ('If only it would rain coffee') is one of his most critically acclaimed self-written and composed pieces and one of my all time favourites... and I don't mean just from Juan Luis... I mean... of all the music I've ever had the pleasure to enjoy!

A remix of 'La llave de mi corazón' ('The key of my heart') with Taboo from the Black Eyed Peas is also an example of his fusing of different genres.

Here's a great YouTube video of my 'all time' favourite song, 'Ojalá Que Llueva Café'. Watch out for the kids chorus near the end... it always near brings a tear to my eye!

The song brings back many great memories of my friendship with Pedro (on the right in the pic - me on left) and his lovely wife Milady (pronounced Mi-lad-i) when they used to take pity on me and feed me loads of great food, fantastic Dominican Rep coffee (El Presidente) and wines, beers and Ron Barcelo, a rum from the Dominican Republic... not necessarily in that order, while we listened and danced (not with Pedro but not something unknown! rolleyes) to Juan Luis and lots of other music from their part of the world. Halcyon days!

Juan Luis Guerra @ Amazon

His latest album:

If you liked that... and want some more, here's a great playlist for Juan Luis Guerra @ YouTube

Search for more music from Juan Luis Guerra @