El Condado De La Salsa y Latin Jazz - December 2020

By Nelson Rodríguez

Hard to believe the year is ending already and at the same time for many of us it will be a year to forget. The exception being all the great music that was released in 2020 and the dozen or more songs dealing with the pandemic. Next month I will wrap up the year but for now let us look at some new material that recently came out. While the pandemic has kept us from dancing at clubs and going to concerts music has been available in abundance.

If you want to hear some great music programs check out WorldSalsaRadio.com with music from all corners of the world currently coming from San Jose, Greece, Germany, Spain, Boston, Rochester (New York), Houston, Los Angeles, London, Salt Lake City (Utah), Berkeley (California), Israel, Oakland and San Francisco. My shows are on Tuesdays 3-6pm (PST) “Jazzeando En El Valle” and Fridays 6-8pm (PST) “El Condado De La Salsa y Jazz Latino”. All are educative and give you the old and new in Afro Latin music. I will be doing interviews with Richie Ray (fron Richie Ray y Bobby Cruz), Papo Vazquez, Christian Tumalan (Pacific Mambo Orchestra), Cesar Orozco & Kamarata Jazz, Jose Rizo’s Mongorama, Chembo Corniel and already interviewed John Santos, Mario Ortiz Jr., trombonist Noah Bless and engineer Jon Fausty.

Little Johnny Rivero is a veteran of the Salsa scene who is currently part of Eddie Palmieri’s Orchestra while also having a wonderful career as solo artist both in Latin Jazz and Salsa. While the past decade he has been recording some fantastic Latin Jazz CD’s the demand for Salsa led to the new release, “Golpe Duro”. What Little Johnny presents is a return to the Salsa of yesteryear getting away from the songs being a speed marathon and the use of just one vocalist…Anthony Almonte. Almonte does a superb job on all the tracks that opens with the first single “Quien Te Ha Dicho” that has the age old question ‘who told you that I don’t need you? I love you”. The story of the gossip that gets out about one lover not needing the other. That was followed by “Falta De Consiencia” and two of my favorites “Listo Para La Pelea” and “Mi Corazon Te Llama” with special guest Eddie Palmieri. Add to this “Mi Son Acero”, “Golpe Duro” and “Sombra De Lluvia” and you have a production worthy of an award. This will be a favorite worldwide for radio, dancers (at home) and DJ’s.

Cabanijazz Project is a San Francisco based band led by Grammy winning percussionist Javier Cabanillas (Pacific Mambo Orchestra) that is one of the premier bands coming out of the North West. This band gives you a healthy dose of Salsa and Latin Jazz with a refreshing approach that includes Blues, Funk, Timba and Afro Cuban rhythms and has made them a favorite at radio. Their latest, “Hellasonic”, will not disappoint fans with the danceable “Zapato Roto”, “Tranquilo Que Vas De Prisa”, “Pancho Pistola”, “Rumbaviento Na’Ma” and “Calor De Horno”. The Latin Jazz side is represented by “Got a Guiro”, “Flechas Con Fuego” and “Durante El Break”. Listen to the lyrics and the story they tell. More bands should look at what Cabanijazz Project is doing as they forge their future in our music world.

Another interesting Latin Jazz recording comes to us from Canadian Jazz vocalist Carol Welsman, who has had a very nice career in Jazz, that through the production genius of Oscar Hernandez debuts with her new CD ”Dance With Me”. Welsman is joined by Juan Luis Guerra in the title track “Dance With Me” and also shines on two Salsa tracks “I Won’t Dance” and “You And The Night And The Music”. She also does a fine job with the Afro Latin classics “Yesterday (Como Fue)”, “Femme Fatale (Amor Fugaz)” and “Yesterday I Heard The Rain (Esta Tarde Vi Llover)” and the cha cha cha “Time To Dance Cha Cha Cha”. Kudos to the great musicians on the recording that include Justo Almario, Joey De Leon and Rene Camacho and a fine job of the arrangements by Oscar Hernandez.

Staying in Canada the band Lengaia Salsa Brava is back with their sophomore release “The Gold Diggers”. The band was formed by Latin/Guayanese Giany H. Despointes in Quebec that features the vocalist Mateo Berrera (Colombia), Hermes Cardoza (Venezuela), newcomer Jean Jorge & the Canadian Phillippe Edmond. The band uses a three trombone and baritone sax as its format and opens with “La Nueva Generacion” that features guest trombonist Jimmy Bosch who also excels on “Salsa Dura Hasta La Muerte”. My favorite track is “Cuco y Olga” originally done by Mongo Santamaria and later by Sexteto Juventud from Venezuela. The tracks “Subiendo”, Los Caminantes”, “Don Nadie”, “Infierno Verde” and “Una Nueva Venezuela” should also get good airplay.

We had been hearing a few tracks this past year from Eliu De Jesus Reyes and we finally received the new production “Regresando A Las Raices Salsa y Mas” with the smash hits “Sabroso Bongo” that features ex- Willie Rosario vocalist Manny Fuentes and then on “Perla Del Mar” Fuentes sings with Jose Raul Marrero, “Homenaje A Paleco” a homage to timbalero Edgardo Morales with ex-La Selecta vocalist Edgardo Rivera, “Se Esta Formando La Rumba” sung by ex- Mulence vocalist Hector Giovanni and “Salsa Gorda De Calle” sung by Alex Jeco . What makes this CD special is that De Jesus Reyes adds a cuatro to each song so basically the concept is a tribute to cuatro players that includes Edwin Colon Zayas, Ramoncito Rivera, Kacho Montalvo, Junior Coss, Josean Feliberty, Orlando ‘El Mostro’ Santiago and Rolando Rivera (Tres). A true winner for all Salsa fans who like a bit of tipico in their menu.

There are also good releases by Gilberto Santa Roas (19 tracks of mostly hard core Salsa), Orquesta Yare, Papucho Manana Club, Doug Beavers, Ricardo Lemvo y Makina Loca, Charanga New York, La Combinacion De La Habana, Rigo y su Obra Maestra doing Latin Jazz and Dany Noel that you should all check out and are highly recommended.

Look for new music by Richie Ray y Bobby Cruz, John Santos and Mario Ortis Jr. is preparing a new CD of all his dad’s Latin Jazz recordings. And congratulations to the Grammy winners Orquesta Aragon for “80” and in the Salsa category Grupo Niche celebrating “40” even though our pick was Luisiito Ayala y Puerto Rican Power’s “40 Años de Poder”.