Salsa CD Reviews 2014









Oh my goodness…what a musical arrival!


Don Perigñon & La Puertorriqueña have brought us a gem—not a diamond in the rough, but a perfectly polished jewel that blazes all the way from your hand to your ears!  Twelve songs that move you to the core…and so enjoyably!


Pedro Morales Cortijo, best known as Don Perigñon (not named after the French champagne, but by an extreme Cuban fan who transformed his nickname “Perin” into "Perigñon," which pleasantly stuck), has followed his musical aptitude from the age of twelve in his native Santurce, Puerto Rico.  A special gift he received, a set of timbales, set him upon a melodic journey that would bring him satisfaction and recognition worldwide.


A band leader for over thirty years, he has collaborated with many significant artists under his tutelage, such as Lalo Rodriguez, Andy Montañez, Mario Ortiz, Jr. and Gilberto Santa Rosa.


Celebrating a series of great albums, each one more potent and fulfilling than the last, this recent outing brims with virtuosity and enthusiasm, with a true understanding of the dancer and his or her energetic potential.  Over these twenty years, Don Perigñon & La Puertorriqueña, which originally began at a charity ball on a 31st of December, have met their objective of fulfilling a huge void in our needy society.


Don Perigñon has arranged a positive combination of talent, employing the voices of Rico Walker, alumni of “Mr. Afinque” Willie Rosario, as well as Josue Rosado and Joe Gonzalez, with the executive production of Vinny Urrutia and arrangements by Pedro Bermudez.  Don Perigñon tackled the Tito Rodriguez/Oscar D’Leon classic “Mulata Coqueta” with ease and distinction, as well as their promotional tracks “Dale Sabor A Tu Vida” and “Guarachando”—a handful of so many great tunes!


Need I say more? This product has success written all over it!  Join the experience and get it as soon as you can!  ◊◊◊




(now known as Orquesta Típica Novel)





It would be a matter of time before I’d review my first Charanga album, which I waited hesitantly to do, and I’ll explain…

For a number of years, I was identified as the “Charanga DJ” since I played a sufficient amount of them at my venues, and many ‘salseros’ would label me as so, something so far from the truth, since I play a bit of every aspect of our rich music. But, at this point, I can definitely say I am multifaceted. Now…I can return to my roots! LOL!


Since I’m scavenging through the classics, I might as well make a toast to SALUD, DINERO Y AMOR by Orquesta Novel (Now known as Orquesta Tipica Novel as per their most recent outing MIRANDO PA’L CIELO in 2013). The title song, written by Argentinian Ricardo Sciammarella and originally recorded as a rock song, later being popularized by crooner Orlando Contreras in the 60’s, tuned out to be very popular as a upbeat charanga tempo upon its release in 1978. Many of the Colombian bands of today have rerecorded this tune, making me as happy as its initial release. So much for posterity, right?


Two other songs that make me shake are the answer to “Boogaloo” Pete Rodriguez’s Micaela, which starts off with the “Ooh Ahh”, but what resonates are the flutes and violins in that rhythmic cadence that makes hips float from side to side, engaging feet in automatic dancing. Salsa Novel does the same exact thing, which is such a great guaracha-charanga swinger (a great move on their part to rerecord it as well on their most recent release mentioned previously).


Worthy and respectable mention of this historic recording are the legendary greats that unfortunately are no longer with us, but left their mark here and in so many important ways:


Louie Ramírez and his diverse arrangements, Gonzalo Fernández and his hypnotic flute playing, the unmistakable voice of Marco Motroni, the powerful trumpet riffs of Ray Maldonado, piano virtuoso Alfredo Rodriguez, the uncanny recording engineer Irv Greenbaum, and the producer of so many legends, Jerry Masucci…unforgettable!


Now it’s on you to place yourself back in time…and enjoy this NOVEL experience!

To all of you…SALUD…DINERO…Y AMOR!!! ◊◊◊









One characteristic I always look for in music is consistency.  Whether it be a certain style or song, its development definitely catches my interest and maintains it with the passing of time. Willie Rosario is the essence im terms of presence, experience and expertise, all making his orchestra one of the most solid, historic musical institutions in Puerto Rico.

Many who discuss Mr. Rosario’s career classify his musical expansion based on his orchestra’s number of crooners.  They have each stamped their unique styles on their recordings and have mostly flourished in their independent careers.  Rosario’s earlier years highlighted soloists such as Linda Leida, Alberto Beltrán, Frankie Figueroa and Adalberto Santiago.  The second stage, featuring Chamaco Rivera, Junior Toledo and Guillo Rivera were very fruitful on the Fania andTh Rodven albums.  But the third stage launched two of our current vocalists honoring our music on a broader level…Tony Vega and Gilberto Santa Rosa.


“Nuevos Horizontes,” released on Bobby Valentín’s Bronco label in 1984, is in my honest opinion, one of the most exciting albums of all times and one of Rosario’s best sellers. Only eight cuts, but each of them swing from beginning to end. The rerecordings of Tito Puente’s “Babarabatiri” and Machito’s “Chango Ta Beni,” plus the presentation of “LLuvia” and “Caramelito Del Campo” leave you yearning for more.  Shortly after this and other recordings, Gilberto Santa Rosa and Tony Vega embarked on solo careers, but Willie Rosario continues on the successful path that has led him to enhance his title…Mr. Afinque!


My purpose is to make sure your music collection is well rounded, with great music to enjoy. But remember, no anthology is complete without the mention of “Nuevos Horizontes.”










How many of us (with a show of hands) think a musical family is a short-lived novelty?  It happens all the time in entertainment, when some siblings and close relatives come together and grasp the audience's attention, with a possible hit tune and syncopated acts that maintain them at the forefront.  But after a while, they lose that touch and interest, and drift off into that of being a simple memory.  Fortunately for us, not all family acts have the same fate.


Los Hermanos Colón have withstood the passing of time, celebrating over twenty years with a new recording.  Under the musical direction of Ernie Acevedo (Muziq Records), "LOS HERMANOS COLÓN PRESENTAN SABOR COLÓN" gives everyone that “conjunto" feel that transports us back to our musical origins, but adding today’s aggressive freshness (as I call it). With Marcos on vocals, and Freddy and Herman belting out their choruses, there is an excitement and feel to their music that definitely gives it "Corazon," one of their outstanding cuts and an every-way winner!


 What also characterizes this family legacy are their English salsa cuts, something that I commend them for doing, as bridging the gap between the dancers and the non-Spanish speakers.  A familiar cut will stay in the minds of many, and you have seen it happen before. Remember their interpretation of "Through The Years" by Kenny Rogers?  Well, here they present "In The Rain," made famous by The Dramatics.  Plus, they feature remakes of “El Nazareno” by Ismael Rivera, and “Yo Te Seguire” by Frankie Dante.


Enough talk!  Let's get this album and enjoy the Sabor Colón!






(1977, TICO TSLP-1416)





While having a glass of white wine at home and rummaging through my music collection, I came across a CD that caught my eye. Recorded in 1977 (I was only 5 years old at the time), it was released on CD in the early 90’s but out of print for quite some time. Historically being the ONLY album produced by Jerry Masucci, La Lupe’s “Unica En Su Clase” personally brings me a slight mixture of joy and sadness. I’m sure many can relate to this.   CUALQUIERA



It’s been twenty-two years since she left our world, but La Lupe continues to enchant us with her legacy. So many rumors and disbelief of her extravagant life perplex a vast amount of her followers, but the music she left us with and her unique style of interpretation reminds all of her most glorious moments.

Recorded between New York and Argentina in the winning fashion of her many previous successful albums (the album features lush ballads arranged by Horacio Malvicino and exciting up-tempo guaguancos arranged by Louie Ramírez), this was one of the last three albums recorded on TICO, recently acquired by FANIA records, marking the end of La Lupe’s commercially successful career—leaving her virtually ignored.


No need to explain where the company’s focus was placed, but in retrospect, this honestly was the fate of all TICO and ALEGRE artists acquired by the mega mogul company.  DUEÑA DEL CANTAR

Highlights of this album are the re-recordings of Canta Bajo and Besito Pa’ Ti, as well as Tu Vida Es Un Escenario and Cualquiera.

Do as I do…refill that wine glass and enjoy the experience of “One of A Kind”! ◊◊◊




(1978, BRONCO JMBR-106)




Now before anyone says that I'm a chauvinist pig because I’m displaying this record cover,

I will state that I'm honestly a connoisseur of fine art, wine and culture.  This album is a perfect example of those fine divinities, meshed together.  The cover design of Musical Seduction displays a woman in fine form, and as a popular Spanish saying states, "cuerpo de guitarra," meaning the body of a guitar (referring to the curvaceous form of her body;  and the guitar strings on her back definitely support that illusion...).

Musically, the production possesses the properties of any classical piece with its complex-

ity and technical execution, with the intensity of Bobby Valentín's bass, combined with bari-

tone sax over the trumpets.  "Naci Moreno," "Negrura," and "Linda Teresa" are the main reasons for buying this LP, re-released on CD some years ago.  This was the first (and only) Bobby Valentín album to feature the great swinging singing style of Luigi Texidor (veteran sensation from Sonora Ponceña) on lead vocals, making this one of the best Puerto Rican salsa albums of the late 1970s.  Luigi's recording helped fill that vacuum created by the departure of Marvin Santiago, who left to further develop his solo career, also paving the path for powerhouse sonero Cano Estremera.  The very intriguing story passed on for years related to the making of this album is that by joining Valentín's band and singing on this particular album, Texidor breached his contract with Fania Records, causing company owner Jerry Masucci to threaten to sue both Valentín and Texidor (most likely because Valentín left the Fania empire in 1975 to form his own label, Bronco Records).  Texidor subsequently returned to Fania and recorded four albums for its short-lived subsidiary,

the Nuestra Records label. Despite these allegations, history was made uniting the intens-

ity of "El Rey Del Bajo" with the uncanny stylings of "El Negrito Del Sabor!"

By the will truly enjoy this musical seduction...!




(of Grupo Arcano)



Artist:  Marlon Steven                       Single: “Picasso”

Released: Winter, 2013                    Label: Gevena Musical Productions  


Marlon Steven, lead vocalist of Chicago based Orquesta La Nueve, brings to us his solo debut in this nice aggressive romantic salsa single, “Picasso”.

Marlon also debuts as the composer of this track with a stellar musical arrangement by Hector “Maximo” Rodriguez that really moves you through many emotions and is brought to life by a stellar line up of musicians, including Richie Viruet, Doug Beaver and Ray Castro, to name a few.

“Picasso” has all of the elements one would expect in a romantic salsa number, but with just the right amount of added spunk, breaks and a killer chorus which definitely is the hook of the song.  You hear it once and it’s stuck in your head.  It’s that catchy and good.

Of particular note, to this reviewer, was the difficulty of the melody in the verses and how Marlon seems to flow and sing through them with a sense of ease.

Overall, “Picasso” is a great single in all aspects.  It’s enjoyable to dance to and/or to sit and listen to.   It will definitely grab your attention fairly quickly and have you singing with it before it ends.  All of these are qualities of a great song which deserves to be in your playlist. ◊◊◊




(of Grupo Arcano)



Artist:  Jorge Laureano                                Single: “El Sitio Aquel”

Released: Winter, 2013                               Label: Caramba Productions 


“El Sitio Aquel” is the first single released from singer Jorge Laureano’s latest album, to be out this Spring, 2014.  Jorge brings us a fairly upbeat, tropically aggressive, salsa romantica number.

“El Sitio Aquel” is a good precursor to an album for many reasons.  First, you get to hear the singer actually sing, which Jorge nails comfortably.  The arrangement grabs the listener right from the beginning with a simple melody which seems so familiar, yet is really not taken from anywhere.  This instantly makes the listener and dancer feel a lot more at ease, which in turn makes the song all the more enjoyable.  Again, the chorus contains a great wordy hook which I feel usually tend to be the best ones, when done right—and this one does.

Jorge‘s song captures many things.  A sense of the classic 90’s salsa with a nice new edge that has the makings of something great. 

I tip my hat off to him and to all of the musicians on this recording and  want to give a special mention to both the great arrangement by Gino Picart, Jr. and the engineering work of Eric Maldonado, of Paris Recording Studios in Tampa, Florida. ◊◊◊





How can you possibly describe a voice that has subliminally played as the soundtrack of our lives for over fifty years?  This inimitable voice can easily sing an up-tempo salsa, a romantic tear-wrenching bolero, then a rhythmic cha cha, without a beat missed.  Years have not only made this voice deeper, but more impressive and emotive to all who admire him.  Who is this exquisite singer?  None other than…Cheo Feliciano!

This gentleman, loved by fans ranging from his native Ponce, Puerto Rico to Latin America and abroad, is revered by his peers.  He boasts a long list of historic re- cordings, from those of his initial years with Joe Cuba, to his popular transition with Eddie Palmieri, to the successful development of his solo career and associations with the Fania All Stars, and his other many recordings.

Sentimiento, Tú, recorded in 1980, represents the meshing of the classic and the contemporary of that era. To this day, it maintains a crisp freshness. What I find extremely striking are the lush arrangements with strings.  During that time, many jumped on the bandwagon, backing up illustrious songs with harps and violins:  Justo Betancourt (Tu No Sospechas), La Lupe (Cualquiera), Chivirico Davila (Mar y Cielo), and Héctor Lavoe (Comedia and El Cantante), to name some.


Although all the salsa numbers on Sentimiento, Tú are exciting and danceable, the tour de force is one simple bolero…Amada Mia! This song brings tears to my eyes and pulls on every ventricle leading to my heart, due to breathtaking lyrics that describe the in-

tense profundity of a love that fills a void searched for so intensely.  I’ve known many to use this particular song as their quintessential hymn of a love materialized, thanks to Cheo! 

This next to last album Cheo recorded for Vaya records, subsidiary of Fania records, still receives spectacular reviews and faithful play from hardcore DJs. Honorable mention to Don Tite Curet Alonso, who not only created many hits for many singers, but develop-

ed a lifelong friendship with Cheo, writing for him continuously.

Please review Sentimiento, Tú once again, but this time around, dedicate Cheo’s Amada Mia to your own heart! ◊◊◊







The ironies of life, ladies and gentlemen...


When artists begin to shine in their own right, some may be able to flourish while others cease to exist, for whatever reason... This is the case of singer Linda Leida, who left an infallible mark in the musical field.  Having distinct qualities in the phrasing of her soneos, she was named "La Reina Del Caribe," particularly by Polito Vega, in the live recording of TR All Stars Live At Roseland.


Born in Villas, Cuba, Linda Leida was Celia Cruz's first female replacement in La Sonora Matancera and her ascent began quietly as she made her remarkable recordings.  Linda Leida's earliest appearances on vinyl were the lead vocals for the track "Afro Cha" on Willie Rosario’s third album Latin Jazz Go Go Go (1964 on BMC and reissued on Neliz in 1998).  She later recorded great albums produced by icons Tito Puente, Hector De León, Roberto Torres, Lino Frias, and Javier Vásquez.

This particular album, whose covers are displayed here, I highly recommend. Recorded under the Ivorian Sacodis label in the early 80s, its stretched-out Afro Cuban jams were aimed at the African and French Antillean markets.


Produced by Aboudou Lassisi and directed by fellow compatriate Ramon Sardiñas, better known as "Monguito El Unico," this music takes off to bigger and broader heights throughout the progression of the album.  Two songs that pierce my heart with fury and burn my soul are “El Guajiro Guarachero” and Cuban standard “Los Carreteros.”  The outstanding points, besides Leida’s vocals, are the majestic interjections from pianist Miguel Rios and familiar nasal choruses of Monguito and Peruvian comedian/singer Pablo Villanueva Branda aka Melcochita.


We miss Linda Leida dearly, but are lucky to still enjoy her legacy through her recordings.  ◊◊◊

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.





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