Rumba Internationale

Las Rubias del Norte

On their debut album, las Rubias look back to the Latin motherland most of them never had. They mix boleros, cha cha cha’s and Guajiras as well as a selection from the Mozart requiem – making it all sound like it belongs on Cuban radio.

Rumba Internationale takes its title from a 1930’s Lecuona Cuban Boys song written by Margarita Lecuona (of Tabu and Babalu fame). The song, recorded in Paris, advises the listener to “learn English and speak French.” In some ways, Las Rubias could be said to emulate the legendary big band. The Cuban Boys were named after Ernesto Lecuona, although he hardly ever appeared with them; they spent most of their artistic life in Europe and then South America, preaching the new Cuban music gospel; they were fronted by an Italian singer who had first gained attention in Hollywood as a Valentino impersonator. The seminal Cuban band is probably responsible for the very first International Cuban craze although they invented their own kind of authenticity: mixing light operatic singing with theatrical production, Afro-Cuban drumming and collaborations with such idiosyncratic performers as American-born French sensation Josephine Baker.

Rumba Internationale, mixes it all up spreading its own kind of musical gospel. Las Rubias cover Latin American standards such as Perfidia and Piel Canela, along with The Sons of the Pioneers’ Tumbling Tumbleweeds, the Confutatis from Mozarts Requiem and a version of Quizas, Quizas, Quizas which manages to quote Abba’s Fernando (which presents odd similarities with Quizas…..) They also cover a Peruvian classic, Que Nadie Sepa mi Sufrir which is also known to French audiences as La Fouled, made popular by Edith Piaf.

The result is a smooth, beautiful album which stays clear of kitsch or irony while retaining both a sense of humor and a sense of tradition.

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The New Yorker.
“… elegant, finely wrought Latin-influenced songs. Las Rubias del Norte compress big-band compositions into sparkling gems.”

Time Out New York
“A pair of angelic voices pushes this elegant, Latin-flavored band’s swoon rating into the stratosphere.”

Robert Christgau
“Before you say rumba wasn’t meant to be this civilized, study danzón (“Perfidia,” “Amorosa Guajira”).  Sounds surpassingly pretty.”