Salsa CD Reviews 2013

 

SOMOS LATINOS

(Label: Independent, released 2013)

BY GERARDO CONTINO Y LOS HABANEROS

 

A REVIEW BY CONTRIBUTING WRITER

GEORGE VELEZ, JR.

(of Grupo Arcano)

Gerardo Contino y Los Habaneros bring to us their latest release entitled, ‘Somos Latinos’. 


Before listening to this short album (only seven tracks), I could only image what to expect when looking at the credits for this album, besides Gerardo (ex-vocalist for NG La Banda).  Among them we find Luisito Quintero, Roberto Quintero, John Benítez, Yaure Muñiz, Angel Subero, Hector ‘Papote’ Jiménez and Manolo Moriera.


The album starts off on the right-Timba-foot, with the track “Siempre Latino.”  This definitely, I felt, was a tone setter and as the rest of the tracks played, one thing became very evident:  The musical arrangements of pianist Axel Tosca Laugart are really exceptional, with very nice movement in the melodies, always creating the right mood for each song.  And the coros throughout all of the tracks are on the money.


The album though is not solely a display in Timba, though the foundation is ever present in some sense.  Gerardo displays his versatility by including a couple romantic styled tropical salsas and even a ballad, “Ni Un Ya No Estas.”


The production also ends with a great bang, returning to a fiery timba track, ”Se Preguntan,” in which the coro perfectly prepares the answer: “La gente se preguntan, que tiene Gerardito?” 


Well, what is it that Gerardito has? 


In his latest release, “Somos Latinos,” he has seven tracks of great arrangements, vocals, musicianship, quality and versatility, or what Los Habaneros call “Sentimiento con Sabrosura.” ◊◊◊

Gerardo Contino Y Los Habaneros

“TREMENDO CACHÉ”

BY CELIA CRUZ & JOHNNY PACHECO

 

A REVIEW BY CONTRIBUTING WRITER

JOSÉ CALDERÓN

 

José Calderón, better known as “DJ José," has been playing independently for over twenty years in New York City. Born in Harlem of Cuban parents, he inherited a deep sense of cultural pride which only intensified as he listened to the music he heard consistently at home. Celia Cruz, La Sonora Matancera, Johnny Pacheco, Orquesta Aragon and Pete “El Conde” Rodriguez are just a few of the artists who influenced his style of playing, which he describes as “a strong mix of Cuban and Puerto Rican conjunto style, saturated with New York flavor.” His pride is evident when spinnng. He states, “I've been given the honor and opportunity to play for a select crowd, and I vow to never disappoint them.”


An avid listener of Vicki Sola’s show, DJ José has played at many well-known venues such as Side Street, Tropicana, Iguana’s, Windows over Harlem, Leather Lounge, and Salsa Wednesdays at Julia DeBurgos. Currently, he plays alternate Fridays at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, selected Wednesday’s at Jimmy Delgado’s Taino Towers, and he emcees the annual Quenepa dance in Long Island, playing alongside many of the renowned bands of yesterday and today, as well as collaborating with many personalities. Supporting worthy causes has also been an important mission for him. He has joined forces with the Sanchez sisters’ Celebration of Life, and The Latinas Hat Society and their events. He maintains a bi-weekly email trail, informing Latin music aficionados of his own activities as well as those of his many colleagues throughout the city.

 

 

It was just a matter of time before I would do a write up on my favorite artist of all times...Celia Cruz!  Those who know me personally know that she has always been my idol.  My explanation is very simple....the beginning of her career was very similar to that of my own mom’s, in Cuba, on the radio stations, her rise to stardom based on her mere talent to captivate, leaving her country to conquer the entire world, visiting five of our seven continents, battling it out and winning amongst a male-dominated genre...need I say more?
 

 

 

 

 

All of her collaborations were milestones, but her alliance with one bandleader fit her like a glove: Johnny Pacheco. It never ceased to amaze me how intense the drive would be when these two recorded in the studio. The result was a musical pot of seasoned arrangements, spicy instrumen-tation, and tantalizing songs which would awaken all of our five senses, opening up an insatiable appetite.

The year was 1975, and there is no stone unturned here. The gods were watching and smiling at the gathering of the most prolific musicians of all times (Enrique 'Papo' Lucca, Luis Mangual, Charlie Rodriguez, Roberto Torres and Justo Betancourt on chorus, etc.). This dream team made a historical contribution to enrich our musical culture, bringing past and present into correlation. The rerecording of tunes such as CucalaLa Sopita En Botella and Rico Changui with Pacheco's “Tumbao," continuously resonates in my head, with regal beauty and motivating festiveness. The guarachas (Dime Si Llegue A Tiempo), bombas (De La Verdegue), boleros (No Me Hables De Amor), and merengues (No Aguanto Mas) in this album are equally powerful, and deserving of their Latin NY Music Awards (the first Salsa awards ceremony) that same year.

http://www.salsapostersprints.com/events.html

 


I am truly blessed to have been born during the time of this recording, and to have witnessed these two forces uniting in harmony. I won't even think you don't already have this album in your collection, because you'd be at such a loss without it.

 

As a treat, I’ve added a link to the video of her performance at that award ceremony. Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t723C8KUQkU  

 

 

 

In early 2011, Renan Morales’s love for Salsa music inspired him to create an Internet radio show via Ustream.tv called “SALSA ES LO QUE HAY,” heard at  http://www.ustream.tv/channel/dj-rey-boricua.

 

Known as “DJ REY BORICUA,” he has done over sixty-five shows and intends to utilize this new medium to help popularize and perpetuate Salsa music.

SALSA EN GRANDE

HOMENAJE A RAMÓN RODRIGUEZ

BY

"PUCHO" RIVERA Y SU GRAN ORQUESTA

 

A REVIEW BY CONTRIBUTING WRITER

“DJ REY BORICUA” RENAN MORALES

How would you like to listen and dance to a big band salsa orchestra playing tunes composed by the master, Ramón Rodriguez, (formerly of Conjunto Classico fame)? If so, then this is the CD for you.  El Maestro Pucho Matos from Aibonito, Puerto Rico has produced a smoking CD titled “Homenaje a Ramón Rodriguez."


The first track, “Cuando Yo Canto Una Rumba,” is a danceable big band tune, which swings, sung by Dr. Anibal Moreno and arranged by Pucho Rivera. The saxes blend in nicely with the trombones and trumpets, giving the song that powerful sound.


Additional tracks like “Porque Tu Eres” and “Deborah” are primarily romantic salsa produced with a swing of their own. These tracks are followed by a plena called “No Se Que Le Pasa,” sung by Angel Miguel Centeno, con sabor.


“La Rumba Lo Cura Todo” is a monstrous tune featuring Dr. Moreno on vocals, and solos by all three percussionists—Osvaldo Rivera on bongos, Cachiro Thompson on congas and Lucas Texidor on timbales. A definite DJ playlist must for all Salsa Dura lovers. The track features a tremendous arrangement by Pucho Rivera, with swing y mucho sabor Boricua.

“Cuando Sale La Luna” and ”Borinquenita” follow with the same big band flavor, suitable to delight dancers.  


The CD ends with another dynamic big band track entitled “Medley De Exitos De Ramón Rodriguez,” basically Conjunto Clásico tunes, elegantly redone in big band style, which you will definitely enjoy.


OVERALL RATING: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!! ◊◊◊

 

MIRANDO PA'L CIELO

(Muziq Records MQ-013, released August 6th, 2013)

BY TIPICA NOVEL


A REVIEW BY CONTRIBUTING WRITER

GEORGE VELEZ, JR.

(of Grupo Arcano)

 

“Mirando Pa’l Cielo” is Tipica Novel’s latest release. For the charanga lover, this album does not disappoint. Tipica Novel (now in their 52nd year!) was able to maintain complete integrity with the vocals of original lead vocalist, Don Alberto González, the strong low unison coros and classic charanga structured arrangements, while adding some new colors with the addition of special invited guests including Jimmy Bosch, Andy Hunter, Guido González and Ray Bayona.


The opening track, “Maquina,” written by Maestro Mauricio Smith, Sr. (R.I.P.) and featuring the amazing flute playing of Mauricio Smith, Jr. and equally superb violin solos of Luis Casal, starts the album off on the right foot. The arrangement itself is refreshing to the ears and modern, yet it retains authenticity in terms of the Charanga style.


The album then immediately draws the listeners and dancers back into a time of nostalgia, with “Pa Que Respetan.” A pure simple tune with Don Alberto’s soothing vocal style, one that I can imagine harkening back to the time when my parents were young.


Novel continues in this fashion of presenting something zesty then something standard. This gives the album a great overall feel, making it fun to both dance and listen to.


“No Me Regañes” incorporates trombone and trumpet solos by Andy Hunter and Guido González, giving the song added spice. And later on, “Ron Con Limon” features dueling trombone solos with added guest, Jimmy Bosch, which speakss for itself.


“Ron Con Limon” also brings something interesting to the album in that it features Ray Bayona’s higher voice, incorporating a slightly different approach to the coros from the songs before that particular number.


The guys of Tipica Novel, and everyone they invited to participate in their project, should really be proud with the end result: “Mirando Pa’l Cielo.” It is very much worth adding to anyone’s collection and is available on Descarga, CD BABY, Amazon and many other outlets. ◊◊◊

Tipica Novel

 

LATIN DIMENSIONS

CON ROBERTO TORRES

(Mericana 109, 1972)

 


A REVIEW BY CONTRIBUTING WRITER

JOSÉ CALDERÓN

A classic extremely needed to revisit...!
 
With the folding of certain small record labels and the acquiring of them by major ones, many recordings seem to fall between the cracks. They may reissue a few and even release a "best of" album, which may list some great tunes, but the original essence is missed. Sorry to be such a purist, but the effort placed in producing a recording should never be overlooked. That is the case of this magnificent recording entitled Latin Dimensions, under the direction of veteran musician Mike Martinez, featuring the uncanny voice of Roberto Torres. Mr."Caballo Viejo" himself is normally associated with savory son montunos and emotional guajiras, reminiscent of a lost Cuba. But in this outing, he is a fighter who wins all rounds! He tackles each tune with his soneos and never loses his cool after executing those intrinsic tongue-twisters. Then, the all star cast: a young Alfredo De La Fé playing his violin, Roberto Rodriguez, Sr. playing his trumpet, Ira Herscher arranging and playing tres and Ralph Lew producing this mini all-star album, making the outing brilliant. Released on Mericana records in 1972 (the year I was born and yes, you can calculate my age—lol), I only pray that people will experience this musical frenzy.  Songs such as Draculita (cha cha), Comparacion (guaracha) and Son (son montuno) are three of the nine tunes that will blow you away in terms of creativity and musicality. 


I firmly stand by my belief that this album was way before its time, and I recommend that you familiarize yourself with it. You'll thank me for it! ◊◊◊

 

 

 

A graduate of Empire State College with a dual major in journalism

and Latin American studies, Tomas Peña has spent years applying his knowledge and writing skills to the promotion of great musicians. A specialist in the crossroads between jazz and Latin music, Peña has written extensively on the subject. His writing has appeared throughout the Internet while he worked as a contributing writer for All About Jazz, Jazz.com, and The Latin Jazz Network. Throughout his work, Peña has conducted over 100 interviews with artists, building connections and getting the true scoop on the music. He worked in radio as the host of Under the Radar on WFDU 89.1 FM and infused his local community with musical knowledge as a member of The New Jersey Performing Arts Center’s Advisory Board. Peña carries experience and insight into his work.”  Chip Boaz – Editor, the Latin Jazz Corner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SAMBUMBIA RADIOACTIVA

(COFRESI PRODUTIONS, 2013)


A REVIEW BY CONTRIBUTING WRITER TOMAS  PEÑA

“Sambumbia” is Caribbean slang for a concoction or mixture of elements that create something new, much like Ray Viera’s music, which contains influences from “each corner of the planet,” but never strays far from its (Puerto Rican) roots.


Viera is a die-hard Boricua who grew up in a musical environment. His influences include Hector Lavoe, Chamaco Ramírez, Pete “El Conde” Rodriguez, Ismael Rivera and Marvin Santiago, as well as Cuban music, in all its forms. At the age of eleven, Viera relocated to the “Barrio” of North Philadelphia, where he was exposed to urban rumbas and Puerto Rican “Decimas” (a ten line stanza of poetry and song), as well as African American R&B. After a stint in the military, Viera returned to North Philadelphia where he discovered his voice while participating in rumbas. A turning point in Viera’s life occurred when he visited the legendary Copacabana nightclub in New York (circa 1970s) and met his “musical father” and mentor, Johnny “El Maestro” Pacheco. According to Viera, he gave Pacheco a demo tape of himself performing with a local band called “Salseate.” Shortly thereafter, Pacheco invited Viera to participate in a recording session and invited him to become a member of his band.


Viera has shared the stage with Pacheco’s “Tumbao,” Celia Cruz, Eddie Palmieri and La Perfecta 2 and the Spanish Harlem Orchestra, among others. In 2002 he stepped out on his own and recorded “Aqui Esta … RayViera,” followed by the highly acclaimed “Trombao” in 2008.


“Sambumbia Radioactiva” represents the evolution of Ray Viera. In addition to coming up with the concept, he composed all of the tunes and had a hand in every facet of the production. Like any sonero and bandleader worth his salt, Viera’s overarching mission is to get the public on the dance floor, but with “Salsumbia Radioactiva,” he set out to create a recording that dancers and music lovers will enjoy from start to finish. With that in mind, the repertoire is diverse, the lyrics are catchy and socially aware and the arrangements are superb. To his credit, Viera’s insistence on recording the music “live” (with all of the musicians in the same room) makes it all the more dynamic.


Thematically, Viera covers all the bases. “Calla” (reminiscent of Eddie Palmieri’s “La Lengua”) points a finger a stern finger at idle gossipers, “Portate Bien” and the lush bolero, “Mi Gran Querer” bring out the crooner in Viera, “Carta a Mama” and “Casanova y su Son” (a monstrous son-guajira) are heartfelt tributes to his mother and the late, great Hector Casanova, “Los Hermanos de Sabor” pairs Viera with the dynamic Herman Olivera, “Experimento en Optimismo” is a cry for optimism in the face of life’s daily challenges, and the closer is a wicked descarga (jam session) that carries an important message and demonstrates what happens when musicians are allowed to interact with one another and record in real time. Between tracks, the recording is peppered with skits that inject a sense of humor and bring to mind the antics of producer, Al Santiago and the Alegre All-Stars (circa 1950s).


And if that weren’t enough, Viera assembled an impressive list of invited guests: Flutist Johnny “El Maestro” Pacheco, sonero Herman Olivera, trombonists Jimmy Bosch and Reynaldo Jorge, percussionist “Pequeño” Johnny Rivero and arrangers Marty Sheller, Sonny Bravo, Edwin Sánchez, Pedro Bermudez, José Madera, Luis Cruz, Willie Ruiz and José Lugo.


During a recent conversation with Viera I asked him if the finished product met his expectations. Suffice it to say, he replied with an unequivocal, “Yes!”, adding, “I am happy to report that the recording is receiving a substantial amount of airplay,” and as Viera tells it, “everyone seems to have a favorite tune.”


“Sambumbia Radioactiva” is the antidote to the formulaic music served up on commercial radio, and it’s the sleeper of the summer. It’s also living proof that the future of salsa is in very good hands.


Tracks:


1. El Trombao Original, Portate Bien, Los Hermanos del Sabor, Casanavo y su Son, Calla, Todos Somos Latinos, Carta a Mama, Mi Gran Querer, Experimento en Optimismo, Descarga Esclavitud Moderna.


Personnel:


Ray Viera, Edwin “Chi-Town” Sánchez, José “El Swing de Medellin” Tabares, José “La Pega” Davila, Luis “Pipi” Cruz, Chris “El Escoses” Kollar, Jimmy Bosch, Reynaldo Jorge, Ozzie “The Wiz” Melendez, Tunkinor “Kaji” Kajiwara, Jorge “La Campana Que Baila” González, Willie “Mumbles” Moreno, Jorge González, Johnny “El Maestro” Pacheco, Johnny “Pequeño” Rivero, Edwin Sánchez, Pablo “Chino” Nuñez, Luisito “El Charrasqueao” Rodriguez, Pucho Matos, Adrian Esteban, Jorge “El Veterano” Maldonado and Herman Olivera.

“Sambumbia Radioactiva” is dedicated to Johnny Pacheco and the memory of the late Luisito Ayala. ◊◊◊

 

 

 

 

 

TODO SE VA PODER
(Fania JM 633, released 1984)

by RAY BARRETTO

 


A REVIEW BY CONTRIBUTING WRITER

JOSÉ CALDERÓN

Todo Se Va Poder CD back cover

Well, this month’s review is another hard-hitter! Remembering our late, great artists is essential in order to keep their music and legacies alive. Famed Puerto Rican conga player/bandleader/arranger Ray Barretto dwelled easily in the realms of hard salsa and Latin jazz. Playing with all the greats, he began his own charanga band, eventually developing the New York salsa sound that made him so popular. If you consider the fact that salsa suffered a serious downfall with the resurgence of merengue during the first half of the 1980s, this album was a godsend.  A true masterpiece and major hit in every way, it reminded all that salsa would never die. Title track "Todo Se Va Poder" and "Prestame Tu Mujer," songs rarely forgotten during salsa gatherings, became major hits.

 

Barretto proved that real salsa would continue to flourish with both this album's success and its all-around excellent material. We have been mourning the loss of this legendary musician since February 17, 2006, but the passing of time has only proven that the memory of our eternal conguero only gains strength in our hearts. Enjoy!!!  ◊◊◊

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHOCO SWING

(CBP 001, 2011)

 

A REVIEW BY CONTRIBUTING WRITER

JOSÉ CALDERÓN

 

 

 

I’d like to recommend the most recent CD released by my good friend, Choco Orta, titled Choco Swing. Many can attest to the fact that she is a dynamite entertainer, one who leaves audiences mesmerized and breathless. A veteran of the stage, Choco is celebrating almost thirty years of nonstop performing, recording with Gunda Merced's Salsa Fever before commencing her ascending solo career. Recently, she performed in different regions of the United States and traveled extensively throughout Latin America.

 

Her style, in my opinion, is a mixture of the three major Latin Divas of our times: radiating the elegance of Celia Cruz, the frenzy of La Lupe and the depth of inspiration exuded by Graciela Pérez—but Orta adds her own essential flavor. Her previous album, Ahora Mismo (produced by Gilberto Santa Rosa) paid homage to those legendary ladies and made me reminisce about the Fania albums we treasure so much; once you had heard one of those productions, you were totally satisfied. If you are interested in obtaining Orta’s recent release or her prior album, you can acquire them through iTunes, your local record store or you may feel free to contact Choco through her website: http://www.chocoorta.net/ ◊◊◊

EDWIN BONILLA’S HOMENAJE A LOS RUMBEROS

(SONIC PROJECTS/SELECTOHITS 1030, 2010)


A REVIEW BY CONTRIBUTING WRITER

JOSÉ CALDERÓN

I cannot begin to describe one of the most powerful recordings I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy in recent years. Edwin Bonilla has the King Midas touch with every recording that he performs and produces—his danceable productions turn to gold! Homenaje a Los Rumberos (Tribute to Los Rumberos) is no exception. It is equal, in terms of the high standards of his previous SAR recordingsin fact, this one is a notch higher. His multi-faceted instrumentalism is beyond incredible, leaving the listener mesmerized. But when he unites forces with Jesus “El Niño” Perez, their talents merge to create a combustible fuel that explodes on the dance floor! You’ll experience that with “No Hay Quien Se Aguante,” a strong tune with rough percussion, an infectious call and response hook and a timbal solo by Bonilla that causes smoke to seep through the speakers. Then, the all star line-up…Cheito Quiñones on vocals (“La Melodia”), Giovanni Hidalgo on masterful percussion solos, vocalist Ricardo Gaitan, Paolo Grajales on piano…incredible! The revisited numbers honoring Ray Barretto (“Canto Abacua” and “Adiviname y Olvidame”) and Justo Betancourt (“Ella Esta En Otra Rumba”) with their modern edges are excellent!


All I have left to say is that I highly recommend that you listen to Bonilla’s historical homage. But give yourself enough space to dance!  ◊◊◊

 

PAPAITO'S RINDE HOMENAJE A ABELARDO BAROSO

(SAR/GUAJIRO 1014, 1990)

A COMMENTARY BY CONTRIBUTING WRITER

JOSÉ CALDERÓN

 

 

As history shows, the huge success of SAR records came as a result of rich instrumentation, a constellation of superstars jamming together under a driving beat, and the unmeasured length of these great songs, some lasting more than ten minutes. One of these records is a true treat, and many support this concept. The following tune, in particular, is an all time favorite, requested often by dancers. “En Guantanamo,” interpreted by Papaito (Mario Muñoz Salazar), is included in Papaito's album Rinde Homenaje a Abelardo Barroso, recorded in 80s and rereleased on CD by SAR Productions in 1990. The production was recorded by this unsung legend, conga player and long-time member of Sonora Matancera, who rendered tribute to Abelardo Barroso, another grand Cuban vocalist from the 20s and 30s. The latter gained renowned popularity in the late 50s with Orquesta Sensación, until his death in 1972. Unfortunately, we lost Papaito in 2000, just one day after the death of Tito Puente. Just a little musical trivia I hope you all will enjoy…! ◊◊◊

 

 

YUNIOR TERRY Y SON DE ALTURA

 

MI BAJO DANZON

(PALOS SANTO MUSIC/ASCAP, 2012)


A REVIEW BY CONTRIBUTING WRITER TOMAS PEÑA


 

Bassist/violinist Yunior Terry is an artist for all seasons. Hailing from Camaguey, Cuba, he is the youngest son of a musical dynasty known as “Los Terry.” In addition to being a highly regarded and sought after musician, he is the leader of Son de Altura, a dance band that has been gigging around New York City since 2007 and whose mission is to preserve the legacy of Cuban music and inspire dancers. “Mi Bajo Danzon” is the band’s first recording.

“Son de Altura has three trumpets,” says writer Ned Sublette, “but Yunior’s a violinist who grew up a charanguero, and the band collapses the two classic lineups of Cuban dance bands (trumpet-driven conjunto vs. flute-and-violins charanga) into one while maintaining the nuances of each.”


Besides leading the band, Terry composed and arranged all of the material and chose his comrades based on their ability to “cultivate the cadence”of authentic Cuban son. Joining Terry on his journey are vocalists David Oquendo, Igor Arias and Pepito Gomez, vocalist/tres player Yuniel Jiménez “El Poeta,” trumpeters Dennis “El Huevo” Hernández and Guido González, pianist Osmany Paredes, percussionists Mauricio Herrera and Victor Sánchez, saxophonist (and brother) Yosvany Terry and keyboardist Manuel Varela.

Terry is a stickler for authenticity, however he is also a New Yorker, which explains his ability to create authentic Cuban music with a New York attitude. “My bass likes to dance,” says Terry “It’s one more dancer out there on the dance floor.”


Standout tracks include: “Tumba Randy,” “Traigo Cha-Cha-Chá,” “Canta Mi Bajo un Danzón,” “Mambo No. 7” and “Dr. de Madrugada.” ◊◊◊

VISIT YUNIOR TERRY ON THE WEB : www.yuniorterry.com

SUGGESTED LISTENING:

2008 Venissa Santi, Bienvenida (Independent)

2008 Dafnis Prieto, Taking the Soul for a Walk (Dafnison Music)

2008 Yosvany Terry, Ye-de-gbe, (Bennett Studio, NJ)

2008 Janet Bunnett, Embracing Voices (Blue Note/ EMI)

Everyone’s “Favorite Lady DJ,” DJ Mar Y Soul deejays, on a regular basis, in some of the most popular salsa dancing venues in New York City and abroad. She currently spins at Mambo Fateegz Salsa Fridays and has enjoyed a successful run at Iguana Salsa Sundays. She makes regular appearances at Club Cache in New York City and prides herself on playing “the best music for dancers.”

 

DJ Mar Y Soul has a recurring association producing for the New York International Salsa Congress, CCADI’s Latin Music Collector’s Festival and the Women in Salsa Festival in Seattle, Washington. She is very proud to have been an invited guest on Vicki Solá’s Que Viva La Musica (89.1 WFDU-FM) spinning her tracks on air in 2012 and in the future.  In 2013, DJ Mar Y Soul looks forward to the launch of djmarysoul.com and other musical endeavors.

 

LOS HACHEROS


PILON

(CHULO RECORDS 78343, 2012)


A REVIEW BY CONTRIBUTING WRITER DJ MAR Y SOUL

 

An argument I’ve heard thrown around for years is that this music, our music, is dying or already dead.  I beg to differ.  And I can thinkof no better platform than here at Viva La Música NY Style® to celebrate an album that will beat back the naysayers with a musical one-two punch.  Its gritty, soulful street sound establishes the artists as “The People’s Champions,” contenders capable to go up against the glitzy commercial salsa circuit dominating the airwaves.


That album is Pilon, debuting in the latter part of 2012 by the hip and happening New York based group Los Hacheros.  These seasoned gentlemen take us on a musical passage that pays homage to the roots of Afro-Latin Caribbean music while conjuring up the essence of an Alegre All-Star production or a live Harlow-Miranda collaboration from back in the day.  We can attribute the full-figured sound to the fact that these young cats recorded Pilon in the style of old—live on analog tape with zero overdubs and a modern day aggressiveness that keeps it relevant yet fresh.


Leading Los Hacheros with his hauntingly piercing vocal is Hector “Papote” Jiménez, who you will remember from the independent megahit Pulpo’s Hot Bread, brought to the masses by piano mastermind Gilberto “Pulpo” Colón.  Rounding out the musical genius on Pilon are bassist William Ash, flute and percussion by Itai Kriss, tres by Jacob Plasse, veteran Eddie Valentín on bongo, and violinist and trombonist Eddie Venegas.


Pilon includes original tracks such as Chano and Papote’s “Guajira” as well as exciting covers of classics “Azucar,” “Convergencia,” and “Mami Me Gusto” – simply delicious goodness for your salsa soul.  Consider these homegrown artists the winner by TKO.


But don’t just take my word for it – go out and get this CD today, and top if off by visiting Los Hacheros at their weekly spots where they play live and play well. You can catch Los Hacheros on Wednesday nights at Pulqueria, 11 Doyers Street in NYC and on Friday nights in Queens at La Gloria, 86-11 Northern Boulevard. ◊◊◊

 

Los Hacheros

THE NEW SWING SEXTET STAYS SWINGING


YESTERDAY, TODAY & TOMORROW

(NSS MUSIC, PENUNE PRODUCTIONS, 2012)


A REVIEW BY CONTRIBUTING WRITER DJ MAR Y SOUL

 

Kicking off 2013 is the New Swing Sextet, with their latest release: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow, a collection of “take no prisoners” dance tracks, smooth instrumentals for the Latin jazz aficionado, as well as grooving boogaloo and straight-up salsa clásica. These flavors, along with a seasoned group of top musicians and fresh vocals from Don Sonero, round out a recording that truly satisfies all tastes. Creating major buzz on DJ lists around the globe as well as on social media outlets, New Swing Sextet’s latest major league production has swung hard, hitting consecutive home runs as you listen to number after number.


NSS carries on the torch of 1970s salsa “consciencia,” with the socially aware “Trabajo Social." They revisit and revitalize their own classic material with the Latin jazz monster dance tune, “Revoluciando.” NSS continues the revival with covers of their own “Vete Pa Ya“ and “El Relajo,“ and pay homage to the elite Sonora Ponceña with their rendition of “La Bien Paga.“ In this production yet another treat lies in “Maybe Then,” featuring a powerhouse vocal by Angel Justiniano, and for fans like me who love instrumentals, you’ll fall in love with "Windmills of Your Mind."


What I particularly love about this collection of tunes is its danceability and smooth instrumentation. It encompasses the beginnings, present and future of this great band, adding yet another level of legend to their already legendary status. This is a DJ “must have” that will add “new” classic flavor to any playlist. ◊◊◊

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