Greatest Hits

Yomo Toro

Greatest Hits

The cuatro—a small guitar with 10 strings arranged in five courses—resonates with Puerto Rican cultural identity and pride. It plays a central role in the island’s jibaro music, but its distinctive tone has also graced countless salsa recordings. Yomo Toro is one of the instrument’s true masters, and this album collects a variety of tracks he’s performed on. Historically, Christmas-themed songs have played a large role in Puerto Rican culture, and some of these tracks update that tradition. Things start out on an old-school note with “Las Chismosas,” which is marked by call-and-response vocals, percolating percussion, and sweet cuatro runs. On Willie Colon’s delightful “Aires de Navidad,” Toro’s riffing is placed against one of Colon’s trademark trombone arrangements. The late, great sonero Hector Lavoe appears on “Dona Santos,” “Dona Tona,” “El Lechon de Cachete,” and “Una Pena de Navidad.” Toro rips it up on “La Cuesta de Josefina,” while “Yomo y La Evolucion” displays the cuatro’s pretty side. The album closes with the streamlined sounds of “A Nuestro Senor,” where burnished trombones and flowing percussion complement a nice vocal melody.

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