Laura Fygi – The Latin Touch

Dutch-born (Amsterdam), with a Dutch father and an Egyptian mother, Laura Fygi made her solo act rather late in her career. Actually, her music career began when she was 32 in 1987 with her joining a Dutch all-girl band, Centerfold. Not much is known of her at that time although when she got her solo debut album together, her name quickly became established with some of the better-known interpreters of jazz classics.
So, not surprisingly, when her sultry (some say, lazy) and seductive voice undergo some form of amalgamation with the best Latin classics like ‘Perfidia’, ‘Besame Mucho’ and ‘Piel Canela’, the results are surprisingly good. Not only did these classics suddenly had a voice of their own, but the Latin aficionados need not only have to be contented with the best-selling Lex Vandyke guitar series which ran to 4 individual discs to make a complete Latin music set; and these run stale and boring very quickly notwithstanding Vandyke’s effective inspirations. There’s also the much-treasured Julio Iglesias’ ‘Raices’ album which pays tribute to the very best of Spanish, Mexican, Italian, Portuguese (Brazilian) and French classic pop songs of the day but these are in a continuous medley like those Chinese New Year singalong songs and each song apppeared hurried and unsettling; in short, lacking the proper Latin touch. You can most certainly look at other jazz singers with their own interpretations of Latin classics but for now, it appears that Fygi’s ‘Latin Touch’ has its own unique soul, made possible by combining her own handpicked musicians. Now, that’s what getting the right musicians and accompanists can do for you.
That’s not to say the album ‘Latin Touch’ has no flaws. Fygi’s songs in this album have had their tempi upgraded at every possible opportunity. The reasons are probably clear in that the album is also preferably catered to the younger generation as well. While the exuberant tempi works amazingly well for some songs, other favourites like ‘Quizas quizas, quizas’ was rather badly mangled into a somewhat cheap tune. Go for Nat King Cole’s heavily Americanised version for a good oldie.
But Fygi did pay attention to her strengths in songs like ‘Historia de un Amor’, ‘Perfidia’, ‘Solamente Una Vez’, ‘Piel Canela’ and ‘La Puerta’ and that’s where the ‘Latin Touch’ really comes to life. That’s not to say that her other efforts are redundant. It’s more probably down to her sometimes over-enthusiastic approach to the Latin classics. So, yes, she did somewhat destroy the amorous  ‘Amor, amor amor’ and degenerated it into a shameful samba flick but moments like the tempestuous ‘Perfidia’ more than make up for some defects.
I’ve been tracking this disc for quite some time since 2006 but only managed to find it at Sogo at Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman. I don’t believe that this disc is a rarity at all but it does take some hunting to locate it, seeing that this disc has been released in 2000. There is a disc at ‘Borders’ in Berjaya Times Square but it is the enhanced XRCD version and costs a whopping RM 128.00. Still, Jim Svejda did say this before: If all a listener bothers to care for when listening to music is to pay avid attention to the quality of the sound (i.e. digital sound, XRCD and what not) he should be better off doing something else. Like creating weird albums with those ocean sounds.
I acquired my copy for RM 48 which I think is slightly too steep. Then again, it’s a whole lot better than to get your albums fix from Tower Records who charged RM 51.00 and above for this.
Track listing:
1. Como Fue (3:01)
2. Perfidia (3:19)
3. Quizas, quizas, quizas (3:24)
4. Noche de Ronda (3:36)
5. Piel Canela (3:03)
6. La Puerta (3:37)
7. Abrazame (4:08)
8. Dimelo (4:19)
9. La Mentira (3:49)
10. Solamente una Vez (2:49)
11. Historia de Un Amor (3:31)
12. Amor (Amor, Amor, Amor) (3:07)
13. Cuando Vuelva A Tu Lado (3:21)
14. Besame Mucho (3:01)
15. You Belong to My Heart (Solamente Una Vez) (2:50)
16. Amor (English version) (3:08)
17. What a Difference a Day Makes (Cuando Vuelva a Tu Lado) (3:22)

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