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If Spanish is the loving tongue, then what better place to speak it than music? Liquid syllables roll against a precise, controlled (emphasis on the roll) percussion where even the piano finds itself in a curvilinear loop, the swirled high-step that is Latin.

Resting the remote on the local Telemundo outlet here, I caught Christina Aguilera song-and-dancing one of her translated hit tunes on Mi Reflejo. I am not immune to teen-pop's charms, especially the entrapment of "Genio Atrapado," since so many of the songs are classic hit singles in a mode that reminds me of the great girl groups of the 1960's, the soaring national anthems of the Ronettes and the Shangri-Las. Britney and Christina pair off in much the same way, good-bad but not evil, and I suspect they'll both be around long after many of their summer stock rivals are training their daughters for the beauty pageant. Viewed through the prism of another language, Christina captures (entrapado!) a sense of passionate drama and abandon that is at the heart of this most romantic of records.

On the other end of the Hispanic scale, not quite La-teen but radiating even more heat (nine are mightier than one), we find Las Cecilias de Cuba, sounding like every Saturday night in a Havana dancehall. All-women Spanish dance orchestras are still a rare sight on any bandstand, but the salsas and boleros and cha-cha-cha's of this nonet's 1997 debut, De Que Te Quejas, newly released in the US on Real Rhythm Records, transcend gender and even ethnicity to provide a rollicking, hip-twitching time. Where music is concerned, there are no borders. / Issue 14 - September 5585
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