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Plena Libre: Cuatro Esquinas



Plena Libre
Puerto Rico’s Multi-Grammy–Nominated Musical Masters, Plena Libre

I have had the pleasure of experiencing Plena Libre in live concerts three times. First, in Toronto at Harbourfront Centre, during one of their summer music festivals. I recall at that time following instructions from the band [together with my wife, friends and the whole audience], learning from them the basic steps to dance Plena. A collective moment of cultural enlightenment and entertainment.

The second time, again in Toronto, Plena Libre was part of the musical celebrations during the 2015 Pan American Games. I was there enjoying all the free concerts offered. And the third time when they performed a free concert at the 2019 Montréal International Jazz Festival, in front of a huge, exhilarating audience in the big Place des Festivals.

Puerto Rico's Plena Libre: Cuatro Esquinas
Puerto Rico’s Plena Libre: Cuatro Esquinas

Founded in 1994 by bassist and musical director Gary Núñez, Plena Libre has left an indelible mark on Puerto Rican music and beyond. The band has skillfully blended the traditional essence of plena and bomba rhythms with contemporary elements, creating a fresh and exhilarating sound. Their innovative approach has ensured that plena, an ancestral genre, remains relevant and attracts new generations of followers.

With this new release, entitled Cuatro Esquinas [Four Corners] Plena Libre are celebrating their 30th anniversary in style. They have become a standard-bearer of plena and a musical ambassador for Puerto Rico. Their innovative fusion of traditional sounds with contemporary elements has allowed plena and bomba to transcend borders and reach new ears. Through their music, Plena Libre has captured the essence of Puerto Rican culture and conveyed a message of pride, resilience, and hope.

Cuatro Esquinas, in my adolescence, used to be a meeting point in my neighborhood, with some ‘bad reputation’. It was known as 4 Esquinas because in each corner there was a bar or bodega. It was the place where people met and all sorts of characters gathered there and replaced their sorrows with some joy, romance, adventure, or consolation. It is the part of our history that does not appear in the ‘stories’ that we were told about who Puerto Ricans are”  Gary Nuñez

From twelve tracks that make up this album, six are compositions by Gary Nuñez: 4 Esquinas [that gives its title to the album], Mi Plena, Lo Que Tiene Ella, La Soltería, Bang Bang and El Criticón. All of them full of joy, energy, with lyrics that reflect on daily life in Puerto Rico. Gary is co-composer on another track, Adiós Que Me Voy / Yo Me Quedo. Congratulations to Gary Núñez and Plena Libre for 30 years being together and for this great album that celebrates this very special anniversary.

YouTube Video – Plena Libre: Si Va A Llover

Music 1. 4 Esquinas; 2. Mi Plena; 3. Lo Que Tiene Ella; 4. Como Tú Pretendes; 5. La Soltería; 6. Agua De Lluvia; 7. Adiós Que Me Voy / Yo Me Quedo; 8. Bang Bang; 9. Don’t Bury; 10. Tu Cintura Con La Mía; 11. El Criticón; 12. Si Va A Llover.

Musicians Gary Núñez: director, electric bass; Víctor Vélez: vocals, percussion; LuisGa Núñez: vocals, percussion; Rafi Falú: requinto; Miguel A. de Jesús: vocals, percussion; Alex “Callejero” López: vocals, percussion; Rafy Torres, Randy Román and Kevin Ortiz: trombones; Pedro Dominicci: timbales; Manuel Rivera: congas; Karla Martínez: piano; Yarina Torres: choirs.

Founder, Editor and Webmaster for Latin Jazz Network and World Music Report. Danilo is a passionate and committed communicator with a sensibility for the arts whose hometown is Toronto, Canada.

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