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Aural Pleasure Review

Los Tres Reyes: 'Romancing the Past'

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On the surface, the romantic trio/bolero tradition is the ultimate old-fashioned Latin genre that appeals more to corny romantics than those into serious musical chops. That may be true on the surface — or if you're deaf. In fact, the trios are responsible for some of the most challenging musical and vocal Latin pop masterpieces in the 20th century, and the latest release by Los Tres Reyes (The Three Kings) is a superb representation of the genre. In order to have a solid bolero trio you need three above-average guitarists who also can sing three-part harmonies, and founding members Gilberto and Raúl Puente (who share their time between Nuevo Laredo and San Antonio) and new lead vocalist Bebo Cárdenas (a Cuban-born San Antonian) are as good as they get. The album is a brilliant collection of boleros, guarachas, and waltzes made even more attractive by the Smithsonian's usual attention to detail when it comes to recording and liner notes. It is a glorious tribute to the music that peaked in the late '30s and early '60s aided by today's technology. It all sounds great, but the masterpiece won't be complete until these guys have a proper CD release party in San Antonio. Local promoters, take heed.

★★★★ (out of 5 stars)

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