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La Copa Rota

by Trio Vegabajeño

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Punto 02:57
Besame Mucho 02:40
La Copa Rota 03:07
La Paloma 02:55
La Novia 02:40
Rosa Dormida 03:01


The Trio Vegabajeño is a historically important musical ensemble from Puerto Rico. The group follows the traditional format of the trio bolero ensemble that spread extensively in Latin America, and in the Latin-American communities in the US. Trio Vegabajeño started in 1943 and had a long trajectory until the 1980s. Within the popularity of the trios, they were considered ambassadors of Puerto Rico. During World War II the economy of Puerto Rico was changing from more agricultural life to a more industrial one, reflected by the migration to the bigger cities. The soundtrack during this historical time was the Trio Vegabajeño. When Benito De Jesús (one of the founding members) moved to the capital, San Juan, he was invited to participate with his guitar in an already established duo with Fernandito Álvarez and Octavio Gonzáles. From this collaboration, the Trio Vegabajeño was born. The group's members changed throughout its run, with only Fernandito Álvarez remaining as the original member. By the recording of this album in 1973, the Trio Vegabajeño consisted of Fernandito Alvarez, Ruben Maldonado, and Guillermo Rivera.

"La Copa Rota" is the name of the album as well as the name of the song, written by Benito de Jesús, one of the original founding members of the group. The album shows the romanticism and versatility of the group. The music is full of emotion and sensitivity expressed by their beautiful voices, guitars and requinto. The album starts with a great introduction titled "Trio Vegabajeño primera parte":

“We are the troubadours from Puerto Rico and we bring you our song, we are the ambassadors that tonight will make you dream of love, we are from the mountains from the heart of Borinquen, three happy countrymen, we are the Vegabajeños.”

This album has some of the most recognized songs from the trio including "En Mi Viejo San Juan" and "La Copa Rota." "En Mi Viejo San Juan" is one of the most recognized songs from Puerto Rico, composed by Noel Estrada and first recorded by Trio Vegabajeño in 1943. The song is considered a national anthem, particularly by those far away from the homeland. "La Copa Rota" regained popularity with new interpretations, such as the one by José Feliciano. The song starts with the traditional introduction of the requinto, and the lyrics express the troubles of alcohol and unrequited love, a common theme in bolero music that feeds from the joyful pain of melancholia. Not all the songs from the group were written by them or even from Puerto Rico. Some of them are taken from songs that became standard repertoire for the trio bolero format, for example "Cucurru Cu Cu Paloma," "Bésame Mucho," and "Las Mañanitas" are Mexican songs.

"Cucurrucucú Paloma" was written by Tomás Méndez in 1954 in the Mexican huapango style. It gained its popularity after it was sung by the Mexican singer and film star Pedro Infante in the film "Escuela de Vagabundos." Trio Vegabajeño's interpretation keeps some of the rhythmic elements of the huapango, but they are not at the forefront of the interpretation; they diverge from the mariachi sound and bring new elements of the trio bolero, such as modern harmonization in the voices and the harmonic rhythm of the piece. It is more representative of the musical trends that were being followed by trios in the ’70s. The requinto plays an important character in this arrangement. The instrumentation's purpose is not exclusively for the accompaniment of the singer, they are an important character in the music. More recently the song regained popularity by Caetano Veloso’s interpretation for the film "Hablé Con Ella" (2002) by Pedro Almodóvar.

"El Milagro Del Amor" (Speak Softly, love), composed by Nino Rota for the film "The Godfather," is given a trio bolero interpretation here. The great introduction of the requinto resembles the sound of the Italian mandolin. Here, they added tremolo (volume-based modulation) to the riffs, a common feature of boleros. Although they stick to the original melody, on occasion the harmonization of their voices reflects traditional bolero harmonies.

This album ends with an outro of the "Trio Vegabajeño segunda parte." The descriptive nature of the outro depicts natural imagery of Puerto Rican beaches and mountains, reflecting the yearning and longing that many Puerto Ricans experience from living abroad.

The album is a carefully planned sequence and well-chosen repertoire that blends together and leaves listeners wanting more. It is important to note that the Trio Vegabajeño is attributed to be the first trio to add a third voice in Puerto Rico. The genres included are not only boleros; it is common practice to include other genres such as traditional music from Puerto Rico, Peruvian waltz, habaneras, and guarachas.

-José Luis Puerta


released June 22, 1973


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