Don Baaska Plays Sylvia Rexach
The picture on the cover is a clever composite by my old friend Bob Bowers. Actually I never met Sylvia personally although we were both performing in lounges in Puerto Rico in the same era. My first contact with her music was in the 60's when I was playing piano at the Dorado Beach Hotel. The bass player and singer was Raful Martinez and he taught me this strange and wonderful song 'Planetarium' which we recorded in 1968 and his vocal is included on this CD. From what I gathered from her friends and musicians who worked with her, Sylvia Rexach was a hopeless romantic who drank too much. Her poetry was superb and her music haunting and beautifully sad with melodies and harmonies that were closer to the USA torch songs of the 40's than to Latin music of that era. Sylvia served in the WACs during WW 2 and was probably influenced by the jazz and pop ballads of that time. Singer Valli Scavelli called my attention to this and on her rendition of 'Alma Adentro' she inserts 'I'm a Fool to want you', a torch song made famous by Frank Sinatra. Sylvia's accompanist was guitarist Tutti Umpierre whom I did know and who liked jazz. There is a currently unavailable LP of Sylvia singeng her own songs with Tutti. Her songs have been well covered by Chucho Avellanet, Gilberto Monroing. Linda Rodstandt and a magnificent album by Juan Luis Barry. Sylvia Rexach and Rafael Hernandez are two Icons of Puerto Rican music. I tried to capture the feeling of her songs on piano on this CD and these are my favorites. The last track 'Sylvia' is my tribute to a great poet, songwriter and a great Soul. From Puerto Rico with Love Don Baaska.