RITES OF RHYTHM: The Music of Cuba

Jory Farr, Author . Regan Books $25.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-06-009030-2

Farr's second book is a useful tool in demystifying the way music is and has been made in Cuba. He dives headlong into the purity of Cuban rhythm, as if to rid himself of the sleaze he uncovered in his previous book, Moguls and Madmen: The Pursuit of Power in Popular Music. Invoking Graham Greene at the outset, Farr thrusts the reader into the fabled wild streets of Havana and a series of encounters with legendary musicians such as Benny Moré and Arsenio Rodríguez. But although his prose is comfortably clear, much of the terminology and many of the references will escape those who are not seriously into Cuban music—a glossary provided at the end offers only partial guidance. A satisfying underlying tension pulls between the first part, in which the island is made to seem like a paradise of authenticity, and the second, in which Cuban exiles pile on disparaging epithets about the cruelties of the Castro revolution. The unexplained contradictions between some of the accounts and the political context underline that the study of Cuban music can never be an exact science. A mainstream audience could probably use a little more handholding through Cuba's esoterica, but Farr's voice is reader-friendly and he's gained impressive access to many untold stories. Aficionados will find the book an insightful must-have. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 08/04/2003
Release date: 08/01/2003
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-06-009031-9
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