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Posts Tagged ‘johnny pacheco’

So the Netflix was calling me, there are some movies I need to see that I can’t get locally and dont need to buy. So I got on ye olde netteflixe and queued up some videos.
The first 2 that arrived were Maldeamores, which I will review elswhere, and Celia Cruz and the Fania All Stars in Africa.
oh happy happy joy joy

Sorry I’m not a reviewer, I dont have any format or outline here. Im just gonna WRITE!!
So….

Its amazing. First, just seeing Celia YOUNG is a bit of a shock. I KNOW the concert was in 1974, but still.

Some details are needed I suppose.
Celia Cruz and the Fania All Stars went to Kinshasha Zaire back in 1974. Black folk were doing it up and salsa was pretty popular all over. Its a homecoming of sorts, the music born in the Americas of African descendants has made it back to Africa.
The audience looks all happy shiny and black. Man thats great to see, a far cry from the sad emaciated dust covered poor souls that seem to be all the media can show us of Africa these days.

The camera is all up in everyone’s face so you get a really upclose intimate look at the musicians. I much prefer it to concert footage that is like being in concert- you know, way way back far away from the stage looking at itty bitty little people.

We start off with Celia in a sequined fishtail dress singing Quimbara. She has some MASSIVE fake hair going, I kinda want some like that now! Pacheco* is in the back doin his thang. Some local guy is pimped out in a green shirt and a hat cocked to the side. Its awesome. And of course the music is hot, cowbells for days!
Next is Guantanamera. Celia gets her dance on during the violin solo, thats a joy to see. I didnt want to mention Pacheco again, but he picks up his flute and gets busy. He is so wiry and lithe and sinuous, just wriggling with nervous energy. He reminds me of Dave Chappelle sometimes. But, I gotta say with all that writhing I always think homey is flying rather high. MAYBE its the music, but he looks like he has a lil junkie energy propelling him. Just sayin.

We have then next EL RATON. Now this is MY SONG, so of course my DVD stalls right in the middle of Jorge Santana’s guitar solo. For the record, most of the artists up there are bien flaquito,but Cheo’s got ASS. Pacheco is so fuckin wired that he is all over the place and I want to grab his shoulders and make him sit still just for a second. Hector Lavoe is wearing an outfit that looks like Christmas and is as gawky as can be. Still, ya gotta love it.
Mi Gente. Hector doesnt sing gawky.Well, let me rephrase- his voice isnt gawky. He sings all hunched over, shoulders rounded, his arms seem too long for his body and he’s a lil scrawny.”ay africa que linda tu esta'”
I dont consider Mi Gente one of my favorite songs, but over the years becasue of the pleasant associations it has become a favorite.Its a happy feel good song. You see Hector looking lanky singing and then in the crowd absolutely beaming with joy. Fuckin great!

Pacheco on el pito for another go at Guantanamera. I know no other man who can make a flute look ghetto. LOL I dont consider this song a favorite despite the fact that I am sitting here singing it full blast.

Ya gotta watch it, check out Ismael Miranda, Nicky Marrero, Yomo Toro, Harlow, Baretto- damn!! It doesnt get better than this!

  • I realized that I am truly a salsa geek because my friends and I talk about Pacheco, Maelo, Justo like they are friends of ours.”dude, pacheco was killin it”
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I am in the process of reviewing all of my salsa. I have to take time away from old favorites and exciting new things so that I can explore some of the good things hidden away in the vaults.

Today I finally got to Larry Harlow and Paso de Encarnacion. Now, I will be honest, I am not normally a fan of anything that is “charanga-ey”. If a song is too “charanga-esque”, I don’t want to hear it. I dislike too much of that chirpy flute stuff, I don’t want my salsa to sound like Peter And the Wolf. I confess though, it has grown on me and often I find the flutes a nice accent and not some intrusive piping little noise.

When this track came on, I figured it was going to be good. Songs that start slowly and acapella and then ramp up, step by step usually have a great payoff in the end. The musicians push and push and push the song until it soars. I wasn’t disappointed with this one. It took about a minute to get there, and I was a bit puzzled as the violins (is that a violin I hear? it sure is!) and trombones did unexpected things. I found it all a tad bit tinny, but good. Then when the rhythm section got going- wow. Talk about phenomenal. They laid it down and locked the groove in and didn’t let up at all.

THIS is the kind of song I love to dance to. You get a little bit of variety in the beginning and then its nonstop salsa. Some people like songs with a lot of breaks and stops and pauses, those have their place. But a song with a good long hard groove is perfect for getting into that flow and dancing some mean street salsa. Where one move, one turn, one spin flows into the other and the dance is 4 minutes of so of nonstop motion.

I can’t tell you what the words were or who was singing, this is one of those songs where the vocals, even though good, weren’t really needed. The rhythm and the ORCHESTRATION are what makes this a masterpiece. As each instrument, each player joined in and added their part to the song, it just got Perfect. Really, that’s all I can say. It was perfect. Everything just fell into place without anyone missing a beat, no pun intended.

Definitely,if you love salsa you GOTTA check this one out!!!

(UPDATED 15 April 2009. I have since learned the words and this is one of my favorite tracks EVER. I now call it “musical perfection”; even my 16 year old son loves it.)

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