What is Salsa? What music should I buy?

A short guide to salsa

Buying Music

Some record reviews

April 2000

I got some new CDs, old releases, but they might interest readers, 'Dicen Que Soy' by India (1994) and Nuyorican Soul (1997) an album featuring a number of artists. These are both CDs by artists from the home of salsa, New York City, where carribean and US sounds mix . India (who has recently released a new album Sola to poor reviews) is one of the leading NY latin singers, and learned much of her music with NY salsa great Palmieri. Her album is quite different to the rootsy cuban music becoming more popular now. Influenced strongly by R&B soul sounds, and a powerful, busy feel, create good upbeat music for dancing. Her voice can get a bit annoying for listening, rising above the band rather than with it.

India also features on Nuyorican soul (think Puerto Rican), but this is a completely different style of album, a music project that crosses genres to capture the best of current NY sounds. Produced by Louie vega and Kenny Gonzalez for Masters at Work who have worked many years in dance music, from hip hop through salsa, disco and dub reggae, it brings together a variety of great artists in an eclectic mix of styles reflecting the current rich NY music culture. Artists include India, Tito Puente, George Benson, Dave Valentin, Eddie Palmeri, Jocelyb Brown and Roy Ayers.Tracks go from House to Big Band swing though great solo performance by Benson and Palmieri. Great for Listening and Dancing. I also have the remix of this album, which is equally good, but without the salsa bits. I got these through Amazon.com, but I think they can be got from Mundial in NL.


June 2000

Two constrasting CDs this month, Ignacio Piñero and his Septeto Nacional "Entre Precios Palmeras" recorded in Cuba in 1928 and 1930, and Marc Anthony Greatest Hits released this year.

Ignacio Piñero and his Septeto Nacional "Entre Precios Palmeras" (1999 IMC Music, series Música Latina Nostalgias MLN 55001). Piñero (bass) is one of of the musicians that the currently popular 'Buena Vista Social Club' (BVSC) musicians would have listen to growing up. Piñero was one of the leaders of the son musical form, developing if from a rural sound, adding elements of La Habana trova song (the tres and the sexualy charged lyrics) and and bringing in the trumpet making it more jazzy, laying the foundations of 'hot' latin styles that were such a success over the next 70 years: mambo, 'rumba' and salsa. His sexteto brought together the key instruments of this music : claves, bongos, maracas, with bass, tres, and trumpet. Despite the 1930 style and recording, this music is instantly accesible from the BVSC son we have become familiar with more recently. Laid back by modern standards, this album is a delight to listen to, the steady rhythm underlying the interchange between voices and trumpet. Anyone interested in the history of Cuban music, or who loves the BVSC sound would enjoy this album.

Marc Anthony Greatest Hits (2000, RMM, on BAT in Spain). Mark Anthony has been one of the big young New York Salsa stars in the 1990s turning out many dance floor hits. His style is polished, romantic ('Necisito Amarte',' El Ultimo Beso',' Nadie Como Ella') and very dancable. The Album features two hit duos, No me Ames with Jennifer López, which sounds a bit like a soap opera theme tune, and the dance floor favourite 'Vivir lo nuestro' with India (see last month's reviews). Many tracks such as Te Conozco Bien will be instantly recognisable by dancers. For salsa dancers this is good album put on and play right through; very dancable, but lacks some of the raw energy or musical experimentation of other groups.