Latin Beat Columns - September 2011 Issue

By Nelson Rodríguez

Latin Beat Columns - Credit...Latin Beat Magazine

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

One of those is called Caché and led by timbalero Wilson Acevedo. Caché must be regarded as one of the hottest Canadian salsa bands of the past decade. While listening to the original tunes of the CD Looking from the Top, you can appreciate how the band's unique sound is enriched with the vocals of Juan Carlos Cárdenas.

Another such band is the one led by Walter A. Torres, as documented on the CD Peligrosa, which includes the hits Peligrosa, Odiame, Olvido, Descarga Pa'l Tambor and Muñeca. The group features two hot vocalists: José 'Pepito' Gómez and Carlos Cascante.

The Costa Rican-born singer Carlos Cascante has made a name for himself in the U.S.A. from coast to coast and his vocals served to enhance the latest Spanish Harlem Orchestra release. His own sophomore recording, Hablando en Serio will become a DJ's best friend. It includes the tracks Ya Tú Vas, Tragedias, Pa'l Bailador, Hablando en Serio, María Ester, and Tremenda Sabrosura.

Tito Rojas recorded throughout the 1990s and 2000s with only one label, MP, but he has now released his first recording on his own label (TR) and he sounds better than ever. Independiente is the proper title for this Rojas project and it should do well on commercial radio.

Sonora Ponceña's El Gigante del Sur is a compilation of 27 tracks, including some of its greatest hits, such as Moreno Soy, Suena el Piano, Timbalero, Night in Tunisia, Canto al Amor, Boranda, El Pio Pio, Hasta Que Se Rompa el Cuero, Mi Lindo Yambú, Fuego en el 23, Bomba Carambomba, Ramona, Hachero Pa' Un Palo, etc.

Orquesta Changüí is a Puerto Rico-based band specialized in Cuba's changüí genre. Propelled by the Vázquez siblings (Eric on timba and Eliud on piano), Orquesta Changüí is capable of competing with any Cuban-based changüí band, as demonstrated on the CD Había Que Hacer Algo, which showcases the talents of vocalist/composer Luis F. Ojeda and vocalist Migdoel Vázquez.

The most active Latin recording artist of the past year has to be Gerardo Rosales, who joined forces with a member of the Cachao musical clan, pianist Lázara López, on Cachao Sounds (La Descarga Continua), in addition to releasing his own CD - Gerardo Rosales y su Son Desempleado's Buscando Chamba. To top it off, Gerardo just came out with the Afro-Cuban Jazz Quintet's Chano Pozo's Music.

Coincidentally, there were some great Latin jazz releases, protagonized by some of my favorite bandleaders, including the first Latin jazz artist I ever promoted, Cuban trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, whose new CD Arturo Sandoval & The WDR Big Band's Mambo Nights features covers of Come Candela, Manteca, Sofrito, Oye Como Va and Mambo Inn.

A magical pianist that I had the privilege to work with is Michel Camilo, whose wonderful new release, Mano a Mano, is a fantastic mix of his romantic touch and his fiery side. Giovanni Hidalgo lends his percussive genius to the project.

One of my favorite artists from the newer generation is conguero Steve Kroon, who continues to excel in each of his most recent recordings, including his fourth CD Without a Doubt (Sin Duda). Notice how Kroon's band shines on the tracks Monterey, Sabro-Songo, On 2, Mizu and Pamela.

The Conjunto Libre legend named Jerry González made his bandleading debut in a classic LP long before he formed the Fort Apache Band, and in recent years he has released great projects under his own name, including his latest one (Jerry González y el Comando de la Clave), fronting a superb band from Spain, where he has been residing since 2000. It is definitely a top-notch Latin jazz contender.

Alto saxophonist T.K. Blue is a well-established jazz artist that will surprise you with his tribute to Charlie Parker on Latin Bird, along with percussionists Willie Martínez, and Roland Guerrero, plus guest trombonist Steve Turré. Combining great covers and T.K. originals, this CD has done well throughout the country's airwaves.

The European band led by Marc Bishoff has put together an EP of five songs, to be followed up later this year with a new EP before the complete CD is eventually released. The tracks feature vocalists Nando & Fabián on four originals including the smoking arrangements of Me Lleva y Me Eleva and Se Nos Fué.

The best thing about collecting Latin music is the discovery of rare items that resurface now and then. A perfect example of this is the CD Ritmo Caliente, recorded by Don Adolfo and his Orquesta Organización. Adolph Williams (alias Don Adolfo) plays timbal and handles the lead vocals for his big band, and the CD contains very good tunes, such as La Verdad, Bacalao Con Papas, Ritmo Caliente, Qué Humanidad, Bon Bon de Canela, and Amor Prohibido.

Leticia Bal, a percussionist from the Netherlands, has put together a new conceptual organization called Trio Son Cubano, featuring Delia González (vocals) and Jesús Hernández (vocals and guitar), plus guest saxophonist Paul Welling. Although it is not your average trio format, this Holland-based musical entity works out very well, after 10 years of playing together.

Kudos to my good friend and Latin Beat colleague Vicki Solá for the release of her book, a new science fiction/fantasy novel inspired by her truly comic genius. "The Getaway That Got Away" will make you laugh…And we all need much more laughter in our lives!