Joan Soriano | Castle | International | Chicago Reader
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Joan Soriano 

When: Thu., Aug. 2, 8 p.m. 2012
Price: $10

Dominican singer and guitarist Joan Soriano was introduced to the U.S. in 2008, accompanying old-school greats such as Ramon Cordero and El Chino Sin Le on the Bachata Roja tour. He recently turned up on last year's intimate The Bachata Legends, backing those two and a few others, but at 40 years old he's becoming a star in his own right—his 2010 album El Duque de la Bachata (IASO) makes it plain that he can sing and compose as well as he plays guitar. In contrast to modern bachata—which can be a bit overbearing, with its tendency toward treacly production and relentlessly fast amped-up acoustic-guitar melodies—Soriano's music is warm and naturalistic, with little but bass and percussion behind the guitars and voices. This sound connects him not just to the greats he's been supporting but also to bachata's roots in Afro-Caribbean son. Earlier this year he released La Familia Soriano (IASO), an album documenting his informal family band, which he developed after moving to the bachata hotbed of Villa Mella at age 13. He's joined by sisters Nelly and Griselda and brother Fernando (who also plays rhythm guitar), and all four take turns singing lead; another sister, Amparo, sings harmony, and her husband, Julian Pacheco, plays bass. All the singers have a low-key charm—you can hear their familiarity with one another in their performances—but the music is hardly thrown together. Soriano's nimble fretwork is especially impressive: he knits the songs' catchy melodies from high-speed strands of sweet-toned staccato notes. He's touring with a slightly scaled-down version of the band that features Griselda, Fernando, and Pacheco, plus Roberto Santos on guira and Carlos Lapaix on bongas and Dominican tambora. —Peter Margasak



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