Puerto Rico’s multi-Grammy–nominated musical masters, Plena Libre have consistently been enthralling audiences around the globe over the course of their storied 30-year, 16-album career with their original sound — one that infuses the traditional plena and bomba rhythms of Puerto Rico with a fresh spring mix of Afro-Caribbean and jazz styles to create groove-laden dance music that honors their deep sense of the unique indigenous musical traditions, while embracing modern trends.
Now, Plena Libre are celebrating their 30th anniversary in style, unleashing a new wave of awe-inspiring hand drumming, vivacious horns, and soul-soaring three-part vocal harmonies with the release of their new album Cuatro Esquinas (Four Corners), to be released March 31, 2023. The fine-tuned, original band of 12 versatile virtuoso musicians will also be captivating audiences across the map in 2023 with live performances scheduled at festivals in Puerto Rico, the United States, and Europe, including an appearance at the prestigious New Orleans Jazz Festival.
Founder, bandleader, and bassist Gary Nuñez stress the appropriateness of the title, since the group’s music, and especially that of this new album, reflects personal, universal situations, accompanied by the unique sounds of the Puerto Rican rhythms of the bomba and the plena. The album title was inspired by Nuñez’s youth, growing up in a Puerto Rican neighborhood where “Four Corners”, alluded to a local meeting point that sometimes even carried an unfairly bad reputation.
Says Nuñez, “Cuatro Esquinas”, in my adolescence, used to be a meeting point in my neighborhood, with some ‘bad reputation’. It was known as ‘4 Esquinas’ because in each corner there was a bar or bodega. It was the place where people met and all sorts of characters gathered there and replaced their sorrows with some joy, romance, adventure, or consolation. It is the part of our history that does not appear in the “stories” that we were told about who Puerto Ricans are”
Cuatro Esquinas is a representation of some of those experiences, captured in a mix of “traditional” and original songs. Featuring four vocalists singing in lush three-part harmonies – with an aggressive, tight, yet sensitive style, which balances the traditional with the contemporary, the global, and the local – Plena Libre creates a brand of music and live performance that captivates the multicultural audience, invites to dance and to listen to their sound.
The track, “Tu cintura con la mía” was arranged by Luisga Núñez, son of Gary Nuñez who shares with his father a passion for parranda, bajo, and vocal harmonies — bringing a taste of the next generation to the distinctive elements of the group.
“We dedicate this recording to the public and to all those people who have supported Plena Libre, through those 30 years. To all the musicians who are and who have been part of this experience, we are GRATEFUL”, enthused Núñez, who took the opportunity to particularly thank his wife Valerie Cox “for the unconditional, necessary and total support for three decades and to all the musicians that were part of this album, making it possible”.
Apart from Gary Núñez as director and bassist, Plena Libre is made up of: Víctor Vélez (vocals/percussion), Luisga Núñez (vocals/percussion), Rafi Falú (requinto), Miguel A. de Jesús (vocals/percussion), Alex “Callejero” López (vocals/percussion), Rafy Torres, Randy Román and Kevin Ortiz on trombones, Pedro Dominicci (timbales), Manuel Rivera (congas), Karla Martínez on piano and Yarina Torres in charge of choirs.
Cuatro Esquinas will be available on all major streaming platforms on March 31, 2023.
Check here for tour updates: https://www.plenalibre.com/tour-dates