Archive for the ‘salsa’ Category


I am listening to Sofrito from Mongo Santamaria- Sofrito Remastered. This one has an almost completely different feel from the shorter version, which I usually listen to.

The song starts with an elegant, stately introduction by the piano. Well, thats interesting, I was expecting salsa not classical music. But at about 1:17 we get a break and then- it begins. Sofrito!! The switch from the almost somber piano to the sultry deep tones of the horns and the latin “swing” is pretty damned sexy. It hasn’t yet made my Most Transcendent Moments in Salsa list, but its a contender.

Imagine a ballerina en pointe dancing gracefully about the stage with her partner. They pause, she lets down her hair kicks off her shoes. And as the music begins again, she drapes herself across his body and they begin a sensuous chachacha*.

The low almost droning quality of the horns coupled with the slower tempo gives this a melancholy and mournful feel. Unlike some versions, this one never really takes off or cuts loose. Instead of frenetic energy we are given restrained intensity. The song doesn’t suffer for it, the intense focus makes it feel even more impassioned than ever.

I am not normally a fan of the flute, I have had to learn to love them. In this case, as the song approaches the 3 minute mark, the tempo picks up some and then we have some flute. The overall tempo of the song rarely changes, but the flitting, flying chirping of the flute lightens things up and helps add some energy.

And then we have even more horns. What are they? And then they all join in, jam for a few, and wrap it up leaving us wanting MORE.

If someone tells me how to resample this mp3 so it isnt too large to upload, I’ll share it for research purposes. 🙂 Until then, here is a live recording of the long version.

* I have heard this song hundreds of times and until I tried to think of a visual for it, hadn’t realized it was chachacha. I always listen to it while sitting.Sometimes I can’t identify a rhythm by ear, I stand up and dance and let my body tell my brain what it is.


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andymCunabiche Adentro is one of my favorite El Gran Combo songs. Andy Montañez really does it in this one! When asked about 3 important moments in his career, he mentioned the recording of this song first.


¿Puede elegir tres momentos importantes de su carrera?

-Uno fue cuando grabamos en vivo un tema en Venezuela, que se llama “Cunabiche Adentro” es decir, monte adentro y grabamos en vivo rodeados de 25,000 personas, fue impresionate

The song is originally by Ali Primera. From wikipedia-
“He recorded his first album Gente de mi tierra in a studio in Germany. Primera’s compositions talk about the suffering of the people, destroyed by poverty and social inequality. Because of his songs, he quickly made his way into the hearts of the people and soon became known as El Cantor del Pueblo or The People’s Singer.”

Apparently this is a song that held great meaning for the people of Venezuela.

A sample of Cunabiche Adentro. About 3/4 of the way through.

It starts of rather sedately, yet suspensefully. You can hear the excitement of the crowd, as if they know what is coming and can hardly wait. The first time I heard this I was bored as it takes a full 2 minutes until it starts picking up, until then it is almost a mournful dirge. Some horns play, there is a little piano in the back but mostly just plaintive singing.

But then, right before the 2 minute mark it seems to taper off and end, the crowd becomes a bit noisier. And then, the horns spring to life and Andy sings “canto el gallo en la manana” and the crowd goes mad.

This for me is one of the most transcendent moments in salsa. I literally get chills sometimes when I hear this. I smile when I hear it, the crowd is clearly elated and Andy is pouring himself into this song. I feel that there is a communion of sorts and the crowd and the band are united in their joy at this moment. I love it.

And then, some El Gran Combo-ing (ie the music plays in that old EGC fashion) that peters out and then more restrained singing.

“….El le canta a la tristeza
Que en el caney se metió

(….drum roll and intense horns)
Nunca la puede sacar
Porque la lleva por dentro

And then- horns stab at the calm and Andy RIPS IT UP!!
“El llanero canta y llora
El llanero canta y cabalga
El llanero canta y llora
El llanero canta y cabalga”

The crowd is insane! By this point I am usually fully hyped and excited and i sing the next part at the top of my lungs as if I am in concert as well.

“Cubaniche Cubaniche Cubaniche Cubaniche Cubaniche Cubaniche Adentro!”

It goes full speed and then just ends. The song peaks so near the end that you never really come down, its awesome!!

El Gran Combo recorded this live in Venezuela,it can be found on the 1976 release Mejor Que Nunca.

Lyrics- I found them online and haven’t checked them against the vocals to see how accurate they are.

Va cabalgando el llanero
Oliendo a sudor de vaca
Y al cafecito negro
Que bebió en la madrugada

Va cabalgando el llanero
Lo acompaña su tonada
Cuando le canta a la luna
Cuando la luna tiene agua
Huele a no se que la brisa
Se pone a ladrar el perro

Iba llorando el llanero
Aunque lo escuche cantar

Canta el gallo en la mañana
Pero nadie ha averiguao
Cuando es que ´ta triste el gallo

Siempre el llanero
Siempre el llanero

Chapoteando en el estero
Una bandada de corocoras
Que se eleva hiriendo al cielo
Vuelve mas triste al llanero

El le canta a la tristeza
Que en el caney se metió
Nunca la puede sacar
Porque la lleva por dentro

El llanero canta y llora
El llanero canta y cabalga
El llanero canta y llora
El llanero canta y cabalga

Llorando el llanero
Sufriendo el llanero
Cunaviche adentro
Cunaviche adentro
Llorando el llanero
Sufriendo su tierra
Llorando su suelo
Cunaviche adentro
Cunaviche adentro
Un rastrojo adentro

Y su tonada dulcita
Como agua de tinajero
Pa´ endulzar su cafe negro
Aunque no endulze su vida

Iba llorando el llanero
Cunaviche adentro
Llorando el llanero
Cunaviche adentro
Un rastrojo adentro
Llorando su suelo
Llorando hasta al sombrero
Llorando al caballo
Tierra adentro
Llanero adentro
Sufirimiento adentro
Llorando el llanero
Llorando hasta al sombrero

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Cesta All Stars- Salsa Maxima

The Cesta All Stars, a super group of the most talented exciting artists of the Golden Era of salsa, was formed in 196? By Joe Quijano. Originally billed as the Alegre All Stars, they moved with Joe to the Cesta label, which he created in 196? And were then known as the Cesta All Stars. Under the direction of Charlie Palmieri, this group of talented artists came together and, quite simply, jammed.

With a lineup that includes such greats as Charlie Palmieri, Cheo Feliciano, Jimmy Sabater,Kako Rodriguez, Willie Torres, there is the potential for both greatness and disaster. How does one take someone at the top of his game and get him to stand back and let others shine? How do you manage to Al Santiago and Charlie do it like true maestros!

Salsa Maxima stands out, the sheer exuberance of the artist comes through in every note. The joy and excitement of playing with other artists of their caliber is almost palpable. Each artist takes his turn at being the star, then steps back to shine his light on the other players, as they each have their turn in the spotlight. The music is clearly the star of this show, the lyrics are secondary. That is not to say they are unimportant or dispensable; the vocal performances are superb and worth the price of the cd, but the vocalists support the musicians, rather than the reverse.

I enjoy this cd, in part, because the artists are so clearly enjoying themselves. I want to be invited to this party!!

1.No Hace Falta Papel – A descarga mambo(Mambo jam session)

An awesome horn solo is the centerpiece of this raucous jazzy jam.

2. Soneros en Una Cesta-

“yo me siento dichoso….”

This is one of my absolute favorite songs, I can think of no way to improve upon it. The vocalists , Jimmy Sabater, Joe Quijana and Willie Torres, take turns telling us the story of how they got together to play(I like self referential song). The phrasing is particularly interesting as they repeat, stretch and crunch words to make them fit the music. While it helps to have lyrics that make some sense, really there is no reason to say “todo el mundo” 5 times in a row, other than than because it sounds good and you need to buy time to think up the next line. I say this because people often want songs translated and I tend to reply ‘It is untranslatable. I can translate the words, but I probably cannot make it make sense to you. It isn’t meant to make sense any more than the lyrics of Tutti Frutti are meant to make sense”.

It’s a slow sexy jam. The music is laid back, yet intense and the driving vocals add the perfect counterpoint adding needed fire. I like the guiro, it reminds me of the creaking of a rocking chair on a front porch.Its a very subtle touch that, at least for me, is irrestible.


Bobby Rodriguez, their “clock”, on the bass.

Luis Ramirez- I only realized last night that this was vibraphone and not piano, proof that I don’t listen to the lyrics or the music as closely as I could. I’ve played this song at least 1000 times in the past 4 years. It is absolutely KILLER.The brightness adds some welcome levity to this track, like the sound of rain on a tin roof or the chirping of coquis against the wind and thunder night during a summer storm. Check the section from 5:24 to 5:43.

By 6:23 it seems as if the song is over and has peaked with the most excellent vibe solo, and if it had peaked that would have been just fine. But there is more.

Chombo? On the sax? I don’t actually know.

The horn screams and wails. It moans, it speaks and ultimately its call becomes too strong to resist. The other instruments answer in turn, gradually joining the fray and coming together an electrifying crescendo, a musical orgy. I feel a sense of relief when it ends. I will point out a few sections I enjoy, some I often miss because once the other instruments return, I become distracted and cant follow him.


7:43-7:51 (7:48 in particular)

Things get a little messy here, but I will point out a few more parts I like. I have problems following a particular instrument, so I find myself listening to the vibes when I was trying to follow the sax, for example.




8:12 I was watching the vibes, and missed the horn at 8:15



4. Jala-Jala con Aguardiente

Jala Jala makes me feel happy and festive. There is some seriously fast drumming going on, and the horns aren’t exactly slacking. Though this was done in a studio, I hear it as being outside at a street festival. The drumming can sound messy, but as it progresses the rythms become more distinct and easier to discern. The drumming and horns are definitely the stars of this show.

5. El Rinconcito

A nice change of pace, a slower son montuno jam here. This is all about the percussion and the piano, a great combination of latin and jazzy that really works.

6. La Quinta De Beethoven

“This is the 5th played on the 3, we know its weird, but so are we”. A latin jazzy take on Beethovens 5th. Barry Rogers KILLS on the tres! It is totally unexpected, but it works. There is something hypnotic about this song and I get lost about halfway into it,I find it trance inducing. Check out the part at about 3:30. Then Charlie on the Piano starting at about 5:03. A minute later, Chombo gives us a smoking jazzy sax solo and ,again, he KILLS it.

7. Aguardiente con Jala Jala

Another fun jala-jala. I have to admit, I don’t find anything particularly spectacular about this one. But its good, fun and upbeat and certainly a percussionists playground.

8. Ran Kan Kan

MAMBO! I love mambo!! The horns are all talking, and whatever they are saying works for me. It starts off like a nice mambo and then we get a fairly quiet interlude and a bit of “descarga”. Kako gets busy on the timbales and gets some backing from the horns and the vocalists, but its all about him for a few minutes then Dandy takes over and shows HIS stuff. There’s some handclapping going on, but I am not sure if this was part of the session or something added in editing. I like it, so I don’t mind. The one thing I don’t like about this song is that it sort of peters out as if they couldn’t figure out exactly how to end it properly.

9. Delirio

Well, what a surprise. A bolero. And in English?! After the mayhem we have experienced so far, it is almost impossible to believe this beautiful passionate, yet restrained bolero was created by the same crew of musicians. The piano- lovely, the horns- beautiful, the percussion- impeccable. Willie Torres’ voice is velvety and yearning, with an unexpected sweetness. Cheo, who drops his verses in Spanish;is a wonder! Though I prefer him as a sonero, his skills as a bolerista are not to be dismissed.

10. Recuerdos de Baranquilla

There are a few things I cannot resist- cowbells and the “caballito” rhythm. I know, many of us have grown weary of it, but I never do. I like the vocals, can’t get much more nasal than that! I’ll mention a few nice sections- 2:50, though you need to wait for it to build to appreciate it fully.4:11 and 4:54.

This is just an awesome song, I can’t not move to it when I hear it.

The lineup-

Musical Director – Charlie Palmieri.

Cheo Feliciano, Dioris Valladares, Jimmy Sabater – Soneas

Changuito Montalvo, Joe Quijano, Víctor Velásquez, Willie Torres , Yayo El Indio- Coro

Barry Rogers- Tres

Joe Wohletz -Trombones

Víctor Paz, Pedro “Puchi” Boulong , Roy Roman- Trumpets

José “Chombo” Silva Tenor Sax

, Mario Rivera – Bariton Sax

Charlie Palmieri- Piano y Organ

Charlie Fox, Piano

Bobby Rodríguez, Bass;

Kako, Orlando marin, Timbales

Louie Ramírez Vibráfono y Percusión;

Johnny “Dandy” Rodríguez, Congas y bongos;

Willie Rosario, Timbales y bongos;

Frankie Malabe, Conga

Pedro Perdomo Conga y Percusión;

Producers-Al Santiago, Joe Quijano

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Seems there has been a discovery of tons of old ,unreleased classic salsa tracks. But WIllie Colon doesn’t want his art blemished by inferior tracks. I am a salsa fan, I want to hear it all. But I am also an artist and I believe an artist has the right to choose which of his works to publish or include in a collection.

I may take 100 pictures to get 5 good ones for an album, I dont want the deleted photos discovered and included in my album. If I have 3 drawings of my kids that look great, I don’t want someone ruining it by adding a bad one, or a good one but of fruit or my dogs or something.

From the article-

“Colón threatened to go to court if Emusica published any new “Siembra” material, but the reaction to the story made him change his mind.

“Because of an outpouring of e-mails and blog posts of outraged fans, I am changing my position on the unpublished ‘Siembra’ tapes,” Colón says. “I will withdraw my objection to the publishing of these outtakes and leave the final decision to Rubén Blades and Emusica.”

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Antes los Ojos Del Mundo

1.Antes los Ojos del Mundo
Nice salsa, pleasant and very danceable.Lead vocals and coro very mellow. (I was thinking rich as I wrote mellow, is mellow at all related to the word melao?) Tight and danceable, with a nice bit of sabor. But not a great song,it lacks fire.

2.Amigo Nunca- A salsa romantic.The percussion sounds Colombian to me, I actually don’t know where this group is from. But my guess would be Colombia or Venezuela. The vocals make me think Venezuela.

Lead vocals are decent, but there is something rather ordinary and uninteresting about them to me. The flute is a nice counterpoint to his husky sort of smoky voice. It begins to pick up at the coro, when that cowbell kicks in I forget everything else! The cowbell and piano work well together, but there is something about the way this is mixed that I don’t like.

3. Estampas y Figuras- How charangesque. I have a fairly large vocabulary of words I invented to describe songs that have flutes and remind me of a charanga. This has a nice old school feel, but Im not feeling the vocals much. This song feels too Cuban to me.

4.Mi Vecina- The percussion works, the flute isn’t too irritating. I really am not being grabbed by the vocalists though,

5. Invitacion al Soneo- This could be good, but there is something stale about it. I feel as if it is an attempt to recreate an older sound, it doesn’t sound fresh to me. And it feels restrained. Sometimes a song is too clean, too tight, too perfect. The singers sound impassioned, but they don’t cut loose.

6. Abre las Puertas de Mi Corazon- A sexy bolero. Well, I think all boleros are sexy.Smoky, ambient, moody.

7.Pa’ guapacha- Well, at least the drums sound hollow and real and not computerized. The intro leads me to believe that there may be some fire in this song. It picks up and the piano is fun, but its not engaging me. It’s a good song, but it feels like perhaps its been smoothed over too much. I compare this to Sonero En Una Cesta and THAT is engaging.

8. Un Cha Cha Pa Miguel- Aw, old school with some chachacha.I have to admit, the nostalgia factor makes this enjoyable to me.

9.Dejese Eso- Problem number one, the vocalist is good and proficient, but I don’t feel anything when he sings. I don’t feeeeeeeeellll anything.I don’t feel anything at all, this song makes me want to dance yet it doesn’t touch me or move me emotionally.

10. Aceptalo- My favorite song from this cd. Why? Probably the cowbell. And the singer does seem to be reaching deeper inside this go round.

11. Descarga B- Tino- A jam session.Flutes bug me. And it feels Studio. It doesn’t feel like it was played, it feels like it was produced.

Overall, I give this a 7 out of 10. I’m guessing its Venezuelan, I’m guessing its recent and influenced by salsa dura. Technically ok, decent vocals. But there is something stale about it to me, it lacks immediacy, passion. Its not raw enough for me. Proficient but not passionate. It lacks the pathos, the malicia that I look for in salsa. It feels like a practiced attempt to recreate golden age salsa dura, and that perfection makes it feel stale, which is unfortunate.

A good cd to listen to at a gathering when you want some good music and ambience, but not to move the crowd. Its good enough to enjoy, but not so good that it distracts from other activities.

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Marc Anthony Wallpaper

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Hector Lavoe Wallpaper

My Tribute to El Cantante de Los Cantantes- Hector Lavoe

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