El Condado De La Salsa y Jazz Latino Year End Review 2022

By Nelson Rodríguez

It’s amazing how fast the year has ended and how many artists released not only holiday music but new music that labels would not due past October. I even had people send me Christmas music after Christmas (Christmas music should be sent before November).

This pandemic era will be remembered for many creative recordings that continue to surface and hopefully these recordings will be remembered with the support of radio hosts and DJ’s.

With has impressed me the most is that the younger generations are in full force recording, writing, arranging and producing music and in most cases doing what they want to record without label pressures.

Speaking about the younger generations Celio Gonzalez Jr., son of the famous bolero vocalist that made his fame with La Sonora Matancera, just released a self-titled recording. What makes this young man (anyone younger than me is a ‘young man’) amazing is that he was born with deformed hands and yet he became a percussionist and horned his skills with Cachao, Sonora Matancera, Celia Cruz and pop stars Ricardo Arjona & Alex Syntek. This debut showcases a funky feel to his father’s vintage songs “Humo”, “Vendaval Sin Rumbo”, “Oye Mima”, “Toqueteo” and “Salsa y Guaguanco Funk”.

There is a very nice Ismael Miranda ‘Live’ recording with a title I totally disagree with, “The Last Salsa Legend”, since you still have Eddie Palmieri, Andy Montañez, Papo Lucca, Adalberto Santiago, Willie Rosario and Bobby Valentin amongst others. Besides the bad title this could possibly be Miranda’s last recording after his huge scare that has affected his health and maybe his singing abilities. The recording includes many of his classic hits.

Luisito Quintero has released an EP of live tracks that first appeared on his CD “3rd Element” and titled “Live Sessions: 3d Element” with the swing mambo “Cota 1000”, “Naima”, “City View”, “Joro Timbal”, the first single “Rendezvous” and the Christian inspired “Harmony of God”. This may soon become a rare recording and one of the first Latin Jazz releases for 2023.

Norbert Velez has been producing over the last few years a series of videos on YouTube, “Desde La Loma”, where he invites some of today’s legends and future stars and now are available as recordings, “Desde La Loma- Session 2 Pt. 01 and Pt. 02” with performances by Tito Rojas, Domingo Quiñones, Michelle Brava, Carlos Garcia, Johnny Rivera, Luisito Carrion, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Maelo Ruiz, Tito Nieves, Jota Ruiz, Jose Alberto ‘El Canario’, and Moncho Rivera.

Sydney, Australia has had a few Salsa bands since the 70’s but the most popular one today has been Mucho Mambo led by trombonist/composer/arranger Martin Taylor that have been for years recording the Cuban style of the 50’s & 60’s with modern flavors and with their 5th CD, “Plaza De Mambo”, continue this tradition. With this new CD, one of the new releases for 2023, celebrates the bands 20th anniversary and has a funky feel to the songs that showcases the bands love of funk & ska while being very danceable. You’ll truly enjoy “El Padrino”, “Mil Veces”, “Se Formo El Bochinche”, “En La Calle”, “percussion Rave” and the Latin Jazz gem “Peter Mambo” (The Peter Gunn TV theme).

La Papina de Cuba (Yuliet Abreu) is a direct descendant from Los Papines and just introduced us to her second recording, a tribute to Celia Cruz, “Celia, Cuba Te Da Gracias”. La Papina does an outstanding job on the tracks “Nadie Se Salva De La Rumba”, “Usted Abuso”, “Que Le Den Candela”, “Bemba Colora”, “Chango Ta Veni”, “Burundanga” and my favorite “Tres Gotas De Agua Bendita”. This talented vocalist is here to stay!

Pedrito Calvo (ex-Los Van Van) has joined with Conexion Cubana, led by bassist Nicolas Sirgado, to record the CD “Un Son a Pedrito” for the German label Termidor. Everyone will love “Un Son a Pedrito”, “Préstame Tu Mujer”, “Mi Mujer y Mi Ex”, “En La Calle” and “Que Le Den”.

Cuban music has been readily available via the internet in the past decade and introduced us to some great new talents and some great release from veteran bands and vocalists. Look for some powerful releases in early 2023.

What a delight it was to learn about the Richmond, Virginia band Kadencia that is keeping the Bomba & Plena tradition alive and well with some awesome Salsa. I learned about their latest, “En Otro Barrio”, led y vocalist/composer Mauricio Sanabria that follows an excellent debut, “La Voz Del Barrio”, a few years back. After the lead single, “Oye”, any of the following tracks can be a huge hit: “Diaspora Puertorriqueña”, “La Revolución Taina”, “El Aroma del Café”, “Puerto Rico Te Extraño”, ‘El Quintero” and “Cucuta”. Kadencia deserves more exposure sounded just as good as any band in Puerto Rico.

Bassist Alex Torres began in Amsterdam, NY back in 1980 and today celebrates the bands 40th, “Son 40”, that is available as CD & LP. It marks a tremendous career that began as a challenge from his mom to get his musical journey started by forming an orchestra with tresero Roberto Lopez when they recorded “Noche Habanera” with a percussion section Alex mentored. I myself have seen the growth from one CD to another over the years that has now been 14 in total. “Son 40” has excellent performances by timbalero Angel Dueño, conguero Miguel Santiago and Tony Garcia Jr. on tumbadoras on the track “No Insultes a Los Cueros”. Vocalist Milo Rodriguez, tresero Roberto Lopez, tresero Renesito Avich, timbalero Alex Savio, trumpeter Steve Weisse and vocalist Zacarias Di Meglio also shine on this new CD. The lead single, “Son 40’, did extremely well and now has another powerful tune, “Retrojo”, scorching at the radio stations around the country and international waters.

Orquesta Café Con Leche, led by William Gomez, was formed in 2000 with some Hall of Fame names like Raul Agraz, Luisito Quintero, David Millan, Lucho Cueto, Ruben Rodriguez and Pablo Santaella. Today the band on “Rumba De Cuero” is showcasing the vocalists Adelmaro Delgado, Oscar Isaac, Vincent Nuñez and Lisa Cerrra. The pick hits here are “Rumba de Cuero”, “Homenaje a Ray Barretto”, “Homenaje A Quisqueya”, “Café Con Leche” and “Mujer Colombiana”.

Los Mas Valientes is a NY based band that was formed in 1995 by flutist Jessica Valiente, bassist Ana Milat Meyer and conguera Yasuyo Kimura in what has grown into an institution but had not had a recording in almost ten years. The variety of rhythms on this excellent Latin Jazz CD makes it a big winner to start 2023. The opener “N(N+1)2” is a jam session that features Jessica, Yasuyo, alto saxophonist Debra Kreisberg, arranger Rick Faulkner on trombone, Victor Rendon on timbales, and Amy Millan on piano. Fans will also enjoy “El Profesor” with Guido Gonzalez on trumpet, “Awijee”, “Xarope”, “Krayol”, and the bolero “Lament Borincano”.

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada has been the home of Rumba Calzada led by percussionist Raphael Geronimo who took over many years ago the band his dad had formed. “Feel The Sun” is the 5th full CD that band has released and the selections “Bobby Rodriguez” with an excellent bass solo by veteran Allan Johnston, “Suena El Timbal”, “Eddie In The Park”, “Partida”, “Rumba Ehh” and “Feel The Sun” are the songs that will receive heavy airplay in 2023.

Pianist Manolo Navarro has another excellent Latin Jazz CD, “My Favorite Standards”, with some fine improvisations by Piro Rodriguez, Angie Machado, Tiko Ortiz, Chembo Corniel, Furito Rios, Charlie Pizarro, Diego Centeno, Omar Hernandez, Marcos Torres, Angel Torres, Bob Pilkington, Gabriel Rodriguez, Hector Matos and Jacob Ortiz. The songs that get a new light here are “Watermelon Man”, “Chega De Saudade”, “Angred Blues”, “En Mis Sueños” and “500 Miles High”.

Enrique Alvarez y su Charanga Latina has been one of the most active recording bands with a new release every year for the past three years, two of them in 2022, and a slamming new live CD, “La Ritmo Me Esta Llamando” in tribute to the popular charanga La Ritmo Oriental. Laritmo Oriental had as its leader Elio Reve who left to form his Charangon (Changui) leaving Enrique Lazaga (the best guiro player in Cuba) in charge. The CD has a great selection of hits with some of Cuba’s finest vocalists that include Pedrito Calvo, Mayito Rivera, Maikel Dinza, Wil Campa, Dayan Carrera, Tony Cala and newer vocalists.

The year 2022 ended with a bang and will also start with a bang based on all the music that is being sent to me for consideration at World Salsa Radio.com and Alma Del Barrio that is now in its 49th year of bringing great music to the community worldwide.