Larry Blumenfeld
July 16, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Bridge to Havana

type
Music
Current Status
In Season
performer
Various Artists
Producers
Pyramid, Universal

We gave it a B

In 1999, American pop stars and Cuban musicians mixed it up for a week in Havana to create these 12 tracks. ”Not So Close Not So Far” (featuring Beth Nielsen Chapman, Carlos Varela, and Santiago Feliu) projects anthemic power, and ”La Brisa Azul” (Bonnie Raitt, Pablo Menendez, and Rey Guerra) neatly blends both nations’ blues traditions. While there are some weak spots — ”Feelin’ Good” drowns Gladys Knight’s vocal in synthesizers and smooth-jazz horns — Bridge is still noteworthy, if only because current U.S. policy toward Cuba would preclude these sessions from happening today.

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