Latin Beat Columns - May 2011 Issue

By Nelson Rodríguez

Latin Beat Columns - Credit...Latin Beat Magazine

"Latin Beat Columns" Credit...Latin Beat Magazine"

Latin Beat Magazine still remains the primordial source for news and updates pertaining to what is happening throughout the world of Latin music.

Jorge Emilio Hasbun's Santiago All-Stars (a Chilean band highlighted in the October issue of Latin Beat) brings forth its CD Joyas y Rarezas, featuring arrangements penned by Ricky Gonzalez and guest vocal appearances by Jimmy Sabater and Frankie Vásquez

Frankie Morales’ new CD (No Te Equivoques...Es Frankie Morales) includes the classic Justo Betancourt tune No Estás En Nada, featuring vocalists Ray Viera, Sammy González, Luisito Ayala, Ray Sepulveda and Yoko (La Japonesa).

Javier Plaza & Orquesta Son-Risa have released one of the best CDs that have emerged this year: Con Sabor a Coco contains the potential radio/club hits El Genio, Fiesta de Soneros, Guaguancó Pa’l 23, Disfraz de Rojo and Pa’l Sonero Mayor.

Charito is a new voice in jazz that has recorded a Michael Jackson tribute CD, Heal the World, including a Latin version of I Can’t Help It, which features guest flutist Hubert Laws, who is no stranger to Latin jazz.

A new young vocalist who impressed me with his vocal chops (reminiscent of Domingo Quiñones) goes simply by the name of Nelson and has released not one but two CDs with distinctively different styles: The CD Homenaje a Los Bravos contains various Ismael Rivera classics and covers of Esa Mujer, Amada Mia and El Cantante, while the second disc, Vamos a La Salsa, is entirely comprised of new musical material, with modern arrangements.

Janeen Puente is doing the right thing in her debut CD Mi Camino, which includes the hit Coquetona, plus the post-mortem tribute Homenaje a Celia, La Lupe’s Oriente and Brenda K. Starr’s I Still Believe.

A good friend asked me about the recent passing of George Shearing, and it brought back memories of this piano legend, who was one of my early Latin jazz influences. Shearing’s Latin Escapade, Latin Affair, George Shearing and The Montgomery Brothers, Satin Latin, Mood Latino, A Shearing Caravan, The Shearing Spell, Shearing On Stage, San Francisco Scene, Shearing in HiFi, Latin Lace and Latin Rendezvous are some of my favorites recordings, and they can still be picked up in vinyl!

When violinist Gregor Huebner moved to New York in 1994, his goal was to be involved in the jazz scene, but the Cuban charanga revival in New York that was ignited by Johnny Almendra’s Jóvenes del Barrio motivated him to become a member of that particular charanga ensemble. Today, he offers a bandleading debut, El Violín Latino which explores three of his primordial romances: the music of Brazil, Cuba and Argentina.

Many ladies have made their bandleading debut in the past decade with their respective salsa and Latin jazz releases, but only a few have maintained stable careers. One who has been doing so for the past two decades and continues to grow with each additional recording is Choco Orta, who excels on her latest CD Choco Swings. This recording contains some fine tunes, including Lo Que No Sirve Se Bota, and Homenaje a Las Soneras.

As leader of Salsa con Clase, Johnny Ray is one of the few salsa artists who has maintained a steady recording career for decades. He is back with Enredado en Tu Piel, featuring the vocal talents of Sammy González Jr. and José Dávila.

Rafael de Jesús’ 1983 album En Grande has been remastered and is now available, with the addition two new singles — Tal Vez Vuelvas a Llamarme and Sí No Estuvieras Tú. A mix of "salsa sensual" with harder material, this CD’s awesome lineup includes the likes of Oscar Hernández, Sal Cuevas, Barry Rogers, Yomo Toro, Papo Pepín, Marc Quiñones, Reynaldo Jorge, Mauricio Smith, Lewis Kahn, and Dick ’Taco’ Mesa, among others.

In his new project (Salsa Subterranea) Henry Fiol mantains the son style that made him so popular. This recording is available only on his website...for free. That’s right, you can download his CD, a promotional tactic being embraced by many artists nowadays. Hey, it is better to give it away than allowing "record pirates" to steal the CD online.