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Pablo Milanes 

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PABLO MILANES

Along with a handful of other musicians attending film school in Havana in the late 60s, Pablo Milanes was a key instigator of Cuba's nueva trova, or new troubadour, movement. Traditional trova singers strolled the countryside playing songs of love and patriotism--which is why Castro favored the form over the more cosmopolitan son. The new school tried to find ways to write songs that were more personal but still in line with Castro's ideals, but despite their best efforts these were met with suspicion by cultural hard-liners. Early in his career, the authorities even sent Milanes to a labor camp for 18 months. By the 70s, though, his lyrical folk songs were socially acceptable at home, and what's more, they'd made him a star abroad. Most of his early material featured only his voice and acoustic guitar, and his music reflected a strong Spanish influence, but over the years he's moved toward a jazzier, pop-friendly sound. His most recent album, Los dias de gloria (Universal Latino), suffers from sickly sweet production and suggests that he's past his prime as a songwriter, but his voice is as gorgeous as ever, bell-like in its clarity and remarkably expressive. Incredibly, this performance is his Chicago debut. Monday, April 16, 7:30 PM, House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn; 312-923-2000 or 312-559-1212.

PETER MARGASAK

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