El Condado De La Salsa y Jazz Latino May/June 2022
By Nelson Rodríguez
As we near the half-way mark of the year 2022 we are slammed with an influx of gems from different genres that will be on many playlists for years to come. We have some veterans and some new names to add to the big jigsaw puzzle we call Afro Latin Music.
Every day we see new musicians popping up with new recordings and many veterans as well. Some are better than others and I choose to review the ones with the best potential for success whether it’s for commercial success or not.
Multi-Grammy winners Spanish Harlem Orchestra are back in a big way with another Grammy worthy nominee for the end of 2022/2023, “Imagenes Latinas”. SHO opens the CD with the powerful swinging “Llego La Hispanica” (as many call the band worldwide) quickly followed by the band’s superb version of Libre’s classic “Imagenes Latinas” arranged by Julio Jauregui. A song I heard the band perform live, featuring vocalist Jeremy Bosch, “De Mi Para Ti’” sounds just as good on CD as it did live. Another song I heard live and fell in love with is the bolero “Como Te Amo” that reminds me of the boleros my parents would play and it made me ‘teary eyes’ and features all three vocalists: Carlos Cascante, Marco Bermudez & Jeremy Bosch.
The one instrumental on the CD is Oscar Hernandez’ composition “Mambo 2021 (also featured on Manuel ‘Maneco’ Ruiz’ debut CD with four trumpet soloists) that here features as the soloists Maneco, Bosch on flute, Mitch Frohman on sax and Luisito Quintero on timbales.
Two other tracks will be powerful candidates for top songs in 2022 “Cuando La Hispanica Toca” and “La Musica Latina”. Kudos to Angel Fernandez who added two arrangements, the mixing & mastering by co-producer Doug Beavers.
Victor Manuelle has been telling us about his new project, “Lado A Lado B”, that showcases his modern urbanish side A and side B with a more throwback sound ala Manuelle from his days with La Puertorriqueña de Don Perignon. It’s a good look at the best of both world’s ‘old skool’ and music for today’s younger fans.
Lado A opens with the creative “Vamos A Ver Si El Gas Pela” featuring Miky Woodz and the voiceover of Marvin Santiago mixed in with a homage to the 1970’s that dancer’s will love. “Esta Noche Te Conviene” & “No La Culpes” is the Salsa that young club goers enjoy dancing to and who can forget the 2021 hit Victor recorded with India “Victimas Los Dos”.
Lado B is the traditional side that opens with the ‘Son’ with that ‘old skool’ styling “La Disputa” and also shows Victor’s talent on the bolero “Si Es Cuestion De Inspirar”. The big hit from Lado B has so far been “Vete y Pregona” as selected by many radio DJ’s.
On the heavy swing side you have two of my favorites “Rumba De Esquina” and “La Reunion” where Victor is joined by Don Perginon and pianist Leni Prieto.
Mike Seda is a new vocalist on the Salsa scene and while there is not much on who he is the music on “Respeto De Mi” does the speaking for Seda. Just listen to “Cuando No Queda Nada”, “Dejala Que Baile”, “La Muerte y Tanislao”, “No Puedo Mas”, “No Se Que Tiene”, “Respeto De Mi” and “Porque No Estas Aqui”.
EP’s (short recordings with 4 to 5 songs) are so common today that many artists are doing them while others record an EP and later produce a full CD/LP. One artist that just released an EP is Dante Vargas & The Cat Band, “Gato Sabroso” with the tunes “Gato Sabroso”, “Mi Pequeña Diva”, “Miguelo”, “Mi Lando” and “Bacila Mi Solo”. Vargas has been one of the premiere trumpet players in Miami and for many Colombian Salsa bands but does some fantastic music for his own band.
Another EP comes from Pibo Marquez y La Colombiana Orquesta celebrating “5to Anniversario“ with the first single being “Muchacho Barrigon” that was a huge hit for Ray Perez y Los Dementes. The EP also includes “Quiero Saber De Ti”, “Manos Candela”, “La Mujer Que A Mi Me Gusta”, “La Esquina De Fidel” and “Arrallue” that all have strong possibilities to do extremely well at radio and on the dance floors.
Latin Jazz continues to pour from veterans many new artists like Dominican pianist Gus Rodriguez who makes his debut with “Amargue Sessions, Vol.1” that showcases his talents on “Sabor A Mi”, “Ni El Clavel Ni La Rosa”, “Que Confusion” and “Se Nos Rompio El Amor”.
Guitarist Peter Michael Robles Jr. joins forces with Mr. King DJ (Reynaldo Suarez Ortiz) on the CD “De Villa Juana a La Havana” an instrumental recording that is tipico Cuban Latin Jazz at it’s best. Villa Juana was a dance club where Robles’ parents would go to dance. All the songs were tributes to family members: “Don Pedro Robles” (Peter’s dad), “Mi Rey Enrique” (Peter’s son), “Clara Anselma” (Mr. King’s grandma). “Maria Lara” (Mr. Kings aunt). “Mi Jaba Angioline” (Peter’s mom), “Isabel Gonzalez” (Mr. King’s grandmother) and “Mami Denny” (Peter’s grandmother).
The L.A. Mambo Combo Latin Jazz Ensemble “El Robo” was just released as a re-mastered recording and is one of those rare Latin Jazz gems that you must get if you are a real fan of the genre. The bolero “Besame Mucho”, “Come Candela”, the title track “El Robo”, the Avearge White Band’s hit “Pick Up The Pieces”, Puente’s “Oye Como Va’, “That’s What I’m Sayin’ Man”, “Jamambo”, and “My Little Reina” are rare classics form this 2003 project.
Last year the label Juan y Nelson released “Latin Jazz For Gringos. Vol.1” and now return with ‘Vol.2” with some great names that include Eddie Palmier, Charlie Palmieri, Andy Duran’s Latin Jazz Big Band, Chuchito Valdes Jr., Alfredo Naranjo, Johnny Pacheco, Orlando Poleo, Marlow Rosado, Martes 8:30 (from Puerto Rico that have recorded various CD’s) and “El Pavo” Frank Hernandez and others. Very nice compilation and not just for ‘gringos’.
La Maxima 79 has become one of Italy’s hottest bands, led by DJ Fabrizio Zoro, and with the new CD “Un Nuevo Dia” will prove to the world that they are here to stay. After a three year absence from their last recoding La Maxima 79’s 4th release delights fans of good dance music with “Rey Del Corta y Pega”, “Te Olvide”, “Changui Del Monte”, “Bailarin” & “Italian Guaguanco” (their latest hit) and two sizzling instrumentals “Aegua” and “Arya”. This is one of the year’s big winners for the international market.
Guayacan Orquesta has chosen to go the romantic route with their latest “Sin Par” with a mellow Salsa that reminds me of my Eddie Santiago days. The only hard Salsa track was last year’s release “Bogota Salsera”. Alexis Lozano & Nino Caicedo has been producing some great Salsa albums for the past 34 years but this one is designed more for commercial radio.
Staying in Colombia vocalist Willy Garcia, from Niche & Son De Cali fame, has had various solo projects and his latest, “Siendo Yo”, has him in a romantic style very similar to Guayacan that we can assume is the current trend in Colombia. The best selections on this CD are “Cada Dia, “Mujeres” ft. Elvis Magno, “Si Eres Tu”, “Mentiroso”, and the more swinging “Aqui Le Pago Con Esto” ft. Cali Flow Latino”.
With all that has been happening in Ukraine it is nice to know that members of Discolados are safe and some of them in New York where they finished “La Evolucion” that has already generated various hits including “Agua De Beber” with guest Choco Orta & “La Campana” with guests Jimmy Bosch and Nelson Gonzalez. I also loved “Nostalgias” with Mitch Frohman (from SHO), “Homenaje”, “Aranjuez Spain”, “Estrella Fugaz”, “Alegria y Tristeza” featuring Julio Lopez on vocals and the Christmas bonus “Carol of The Bells”.
Pianist bandleader Ilya Yeresko creates the music and vocalist Karolina Patoski the lyrics on some of these songs. Discolados has been getting better and better with each project they release.
Another huge increase in the past decade has come from many talented ladies in both Salsa and Latin Jazz. Anibal D’ Gracia has produced an album of 100 ladies, from all parts of the world, that took four years to produce. “Anibal D’ Gracia Presenta La Orquesta Femenina Son Divas y sus Invitadas Internacionales” was worth the wait. The Puerto Rico based band introduced us to their music last year with the Latin Jazz tune “Machito Forever” in tribute to Tito Puente.
There’s a range of genres that the ladies present here with the standouts being “Mas Mala Que Tu”, “Llamen Los Bomberos”, “Una Loca Como Yo”, “Bailando Con Otra”, “Tributo A Las Reinas”, “Lo Que Son Las Cosas” “Mira Lo Que Me Encontre” and “Soy Antillano”.
In Puerto Rico the band is basically 13 musicians with the lead vocals handled by Lilian Aponte, Niko Camilo and Luz Mary Parra and musical director/trumpeter Nicole Yomara Santiago. Some of the guests include Michelle Brava, Izis La Enfermera De La Salsa, Zayra Pola, Nahyra Perez, Alexandra Alban, Francia Elena (D’Cache), Yoko Mimata, Orquesta Anacaona, and Yamira Blanco.
Yamira Blanco, from Cuba, not only sings but also plays a mean Tres! Her CD “Pa’ Mi Tres” is a wonderful debut that has a scorcher where Yamira teams with tres great Pancho Amat on “Dos Con Tres”. Add to this “Dejate Besar”, “Quien No Ha Querido”. “El Presumido”, “Monipulao” featuring Alain Perez, “El Amor De Mi Vida” featuring Kelvis Ochoa, “Muda Mi Alma” featuring Hiran Velasquez Carralero “Fue Adan” featuring Juan Antonio Gil and “Adonde” featuring Rolando Luna. This CD is tipico Cuban music at its best and a new voice in Yamira Blanco.
Elena Correa is another beautiful voice from Cuba we are introduced to on her CD “Signo De Fuego” that thrills us with “Prefiero Perderte”, “Signo De Fuego”, “Promesa” and the funky “Parara”. Strangely one track, “Cuando Te Acuerdes De Mi”, does not feature Correa on vocals but does feature Mandi Miranda on vocals.
One of the year’s most interesting recording so far is the legendary Septeto Nacional de Ignacio Piñiero, in its 91 years of existence, has just released a tribute to the 60 years of El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico titled “Gran Combo Pa’ Rato” with the hits sung by special guests like “Que Me Lo Den En Vida” (Gilberto Santa Rosa), “El Menu” (Yumuri), “Brujeria” (Victor Manuelle), “Un Verano En Nueva York” (Mandy Cantero) and the original first single “Gran Combo Pa’ Rato” (Gustavo Oliva). Nice tipico Cuban music tribute!
Jose Miguel Ortega Tovar, better known as Sr. Ortegon, continues his venture into the fusion of Salsa Hip Hop, Boogaloo, Cha Cha Cha, Latin Rock, Pop Fusion, Latin Soul, Latin Blues Jazz, Chilled Jazz, and Smooth Funk that he titles “Latin Boogaloo, Vol.2”. The difference between this second volume and the first is that the tracks on this volume 2 are acoustic.
My only problem with these recordings is how short the tracks are. You can clearly hear how these tracks needed more time to evolve….it leaves you wanting more.
Venezuela’s vocalist/percussionist Nestor Pacheco has been actively producing recordings every year for some time now and has a new recording “Regresando A La Calle” by Nestor Pacheco y Somos 7. The vibe led band, with no horns, is a collaboration between Pacheco & Italian DJ Vins that produced a sound that is all the rage in Italy. The songs that highlight this recording are “Vamos A Celebrar”, the tile track “Regresando A La Calle”, “La Vecina”, “Cha Cha Mambo”, “Me Quedo En Mi Guaguanco”, “Pachangozo”, “Lulu”, “Amarte” and “Aquella Noche”.
Marcus Hernandez and Orquesta Fuego return with another winner from this fabulous Florida based band, “Candela”, that also does a fine version of the classic Celia & Johnny hit “Quimbara”. Popular vocalis Edwin Lebron wrote the title track ‘Candela” and also destined to be hits are “Sabor with Love”, “Lentamente Poco a Poco”, “Con Ella Quiero Bailar” featuring Jose Alberto ‘El Canario’ and the Christian standard mega hit “Way Maker” featuring Pete Rodriguez on vocal. Pete, the son of Pete ‘El Conde’ Rodriguez, is a superb Latin Jazz Trumpeter living in Texas who is also a fine singer.
Miami has had for decades some great fusion bands starting in the 80’s with Gloria Esteban & The Miami Sound Machine. There have been many great Salsa bands and today Sonlokos is making a name for themselves with their second release “En La Calle” that follows their 2015 debut “Locos Por El Son”. This new project has a mix of fusions with the essence being Cuban rhythms and a unique sound.