El Condado De La Salsa y Jazz Latino Reviews August-September 2022
By Nelson Rodríguez
The end of the summer is almost over, at least here in Los Angeles, and I can recall how in my youth we’d spend so much time listening to pop radio for the latest hits that were the summer hits. Listening to radio does not exist today like it did back in the 60’s & 70’s but artists are releasing tracks at an incredible pace and unfortunately many will be lost to the lack of exposure from radio and club DJ’s. The online wave of radio shows can play some of these songs but many of these shows fall short of helping the artist. It is up to us in the industry as DJ’s, radio hosts, promoters, journalists, etc. to help the artists.
Music is flooding from all parts of the world mostly as MP3’s that may later be a part of a full recording or not. It’s just the way things are today in the recording industry.
Latin Jazz continues to be the fastest growing of all the Latin genres and Salsa continues growing on a vicious spiral of either good music or bad music. Artist’s record and release music with very little concept of marketing. There’s a new terminology that refers to Latin Jazz as Pan Latin Jazz and many Salsa bands are doing instrumentals on their new recordings.
One of the best trumpet players in the USA is Brian Lynch that started doing Jazz CD’s before discovering Latin music and later Eddie Palmieri. His latest is part of a series he calls ‘The Songbooks’ and in “Songbook Vol.2-Dance the Way U Want To” has Grammy written all over it. A two CD set has Part 1 then Part 2 has radio versions and alternates of Part 1. The gems you will love are “Eddie’s Plan B”, “Tom Harrell”, “Change of Plan”, “Awe Shocks”, “Across the Bridge”, and “The Disco Godfather”. Brian adds some students (Percussionist Murphy Aucamp and saxophonist Chris Thompson Taylor) to the recording and with the band Spheres of Influence kick butt on this CD.
Another Latin Jazz gem is drummer Joe McCarthy’s New York Afro Bop Alliance Big Band’s tribute to the Nutcraker suite titled “The Pan American Nutcraker Suite” and the awesome hit, “March” from “March of the Wooden Soldiers” that was my favorite Thanksgiving movie with comedians Laurel & Hardy as a kid in the 60’s.
Isis Rosario better known as Izis ‘La Enfermera De La Salsa’ has been one of the most active Salseras in the industry today and is back with a new project titled “La Enfermera LLego” as she continues her career as a military nurse and vocalist/performer. The recording includes three great English Salsa versions of Janet Jackson’s “Any Time Any Place”, Lisa Stanfield’s “All Around the World” and Alicia Keyes’ “Fallin”, as a Bacahta, but not Madonna’s “Like A Prayer”.
The regular Salsa portion ranges from Salsa Romantica and the swing title track “La Enfermera De La Salsa”. La Lupe’s classic bolero “Amor Gitano” in done as a Salsa version By Izis on this CD.
About four years ago Hall of Famer conguero Papo Pepin spoke to me about a Latin Jazz recording he was working on. Then came the pandemic and everything stopped. Then Papo teamed up with another Mario Bauza alumni, Bongocero Joe Gonzalez and the project was just completed and available. “Estilo y Moviemiento Con Latin Jazz” is a superb Latin Jazz CD with the Salsa track that came out as the first single for DJ’s “Las Abuelitas” and the other danceable track with lyrics “Tributo a Candido” with great solod by Joe & Papo. The Latin Jazz material is ‘straight A’ selections: “Rocco’s Special”, “Song For a Friend” (a tribute to Mario Bauza with whom both Joe and Papo played with). “La Paoint’, “Labyrith”, “Contigo”, “In The Moment” and “Dale Con El Movimiento”. Definitely a Grammy contender!
Cuba has been recording at a rapid pace with very little record availability, but some great material has been coming out like trumpeter Alexis Baro, in Toronto, Canada, whose CD “The Cuban Trumpet Tradition-My Roots” is an extraordinaire recording by one of today’s top trumpeters and performer that is his 7th to date. In this tribute to the great Cuban trumpet giants Alexis is joined by some of today’s finest (Jesus Alemañy, Miguelo Valdes, and Alexander Brown) to bring us one of the top CD’s of 2022. The hits here are endless starting with “Homenaje a La Trompeta Cubana”, “Tan Lejos”, “El Clasico De Pueblo Nuevo”, “Timba Jam” and ‘El Son De Descarga”.
La Central Orquesta is a slamming Envidia release, produced by Luis Dominguez, that has been releasing mostly charanga tinged music every month. La Central’s “Baila Sin Limites” has one hit after another for all fans of Charanga music…just listen to “Cuando Llegas Tarde Al Amanecer”, “Le Pregunto El Psiquiatra”, “Me Sube El Loco”, “Pa’ Lo Que Has Quedao”, “Te Conozco Bacalao” (the Willie Colon/Hector Lavoe hit) and “Fuego En El 23”. Luis Dominguez has also proven himself as a very good pianist.
One of Cuba’s hottest soneros is Michel Maza who has been steadily recording and has a hot new CD “Sali Echaaandd!!!”, also on Envidia. The pick hits here include “Regrese Con Mi Gente”, “Lo Malo Que Tiene La Habana”, “El Gato Tragabalas”, “Te Creiste La Carita”, “Tenerte Por Siempre” and a new version of “Lola” that Michel sung originally with Charanga Habanera. An all-star line-up has the talents of Arnaldo Jimenez, Jesus Chappotin, Ulises Benavides and Carlos Alvarez.
One of my favorites is trombonist Alexander Guerra & D’ Nuevo Son that bassist Celestino Sanchez sent me from his trip to Cuba. “Yo Soy Asi” is a great introduction to this young trombonists magic as shown on the hits “Para El Bailador”, “Ya Llegue”, “Se Acabo El Juego, “Pa’ Que Suene”, “El Agua Fiesta” and “Dicen Que Se Cae”.
One of the biggest surprises of the summer is the new Alfredo De La Fe’s “Legado” with a host of invited guests. The CD was recorded in Colombia, Cuba. the USA and Peru and the guests include Amy Gutierrez (ex-Son Tentacion) on “Mi Peru”, Gilberto Santa Rosa on “Salsero Al Mango”, Alexander Abreu on “A Otro Con Ese Cuento”, Jose Alberto ‘El Canario’ on “Batahola”, Fausto Chavela on “Goza Mi Descarga” (the current hit) and the addition of rapper MC Killer on three tracks. The title track, “Legado”, is a true Latin Jazz jam for any jazz radio. Kudos to Peruvian pianist Cesar Correa as Musical Director, arranger and pianist and flute player Andres Luqueta.
Guitarist Tito Garcia has had a series of independent CD’s and his latest endorsement, “Alambre Dulce”, is a true winner with its ‘tipico’ sound. Fans will enjoy “Montuno y Guaguanco”, “Sabrosura”, “Gocen Mi Tumbao”, ‘No He Visto a Caridad” in addition to some good Cuban standards we all love.
La Contundente has been one of Colombia’s bright new acts of the past decade and their new recording, “Ritmo Caliente”, comes from Medellin, and the band is led by flutist Alexis Gaviria that originally debuted in 2011 with a charanga format that had batas, a flute and a tres guitar.
The richness this band brings can be heard in the tracks “Ya No Estas”, “Cupido”, “Ritmo Caliente”, “Viperina” and “Soy Latino”.
Timbalero Jose Pacheco leads Pacheco y su Timbal and the Cd “El Vecino Timbalero” and is a dancers delight DJ’s and radio hosts will enjoy “El Vecino Timbalero”, “La Varita Magica”, “Un Regalo” with the voice of Charlie Maldonado, “Traigo El Alma Rota” and the instrumental “Latin Jazz Con Sabor”.
Also from ‘La Isla Del Encanto’ is the hot Jerry Ferrao release “Desafio” that has made Ferrao a hit with the smash hit “Los Grandes Timbaleros” that highlights Endel Dueno and his brothers Pedro 7 Angel all on timbales. This danceable gem also shines on the tunes “Linda”, “Nuestro Secreto”, “Por Las Calles Va Penando”, and “Contra El Viento y La Marea”.
Bobby Cruz & Salsa Factory Bunch, that is the second recording by this band, and the legend Bobby Cruz sounds fantastic. “La Cirugia” Ft. Marlow Rosado, “Panis Angelicus”, “La Receta Final”, “Cumbanchero”, “Cua Cua” (my favorite) and other songs that don’t use Bobby on vocals but also swing.
There is a new vocalist, Karla Marie, that has a beautiful voice and a great debut, “Siempre Contigo Myrta Silva” in trip to this great legend who was the first female vocalist in La Sonora Matancera in 1949 and she was replaced by Celia Cruz when Silva returned to Puerto Rico in the early 50’s. The CD has Myrta Silva’s biggest hit “Como Camina Chencha” that Silva wrote with Nico Saquito (Antonio Fernandez). Also included are “Loca”, “Puerto Rico Canta y Baila”, “Esos No Son De Aqui” that will definitely make a name for this young new vocalist.
Dante Vargas is one of Colombia’s hottest trumpeters for over a decade and has been producing a series of hit recordings. His latest is a live recording, “Mi Trayectoria (Las Noches Del Gato)’ with his band The Cat Band that is covers. The covers the band performs are “Mi Primera Rumba” (India), “Te Va A Doler” (Maelo Ruiz), “Basto Una Mirada” (Los Titanes), “Tu Amigo O Tu Amante” (Orquesta La Sabrosura), “La Comay” (Sonora Carruseles), “Cachondea” (Fruko), “Perdoname” (Gilberto Santa Rosa) and “I Like It Like That” (Pete Rodriguez/Tito Nieves).
Buena Vibra Sextet’s “Flor De Verano”, with the excellent compositions by Spanish Harlem Orchestras Jeremy Bosch, on the Salsaneo Record label was one we were waiting for about a year. ‘Aunque Te Quiero” has become the big hit off the CD along with “El Fin Del Mundo Contigo”, “Vestido De Flores” and “De La Fria a La Caliente”. “Flor De Verano” was worth the wait for fans of vibe driven Salsa by this amazing band.
Fania just reissued Joe Bataan’s “Gypsy Woman” LP in colored vinyl and will soon drop The Fania All-Stars “Live at the Cheetah, Vol.1” on color vinyl as well. Plans are on to release in 2023 many LPs turning 50.
New projects in the works include:
The Dream Team (led by Johnny ‘Dandy’ Rodriguez)
Mario Ortiz jazz project
Mitch Frohman jazz project
Don Perignon “45 Aniverasrio- Agradecido y Afortunado” with a host of guests that include Gilberto Santa Rosa
Jose Alberto ‘El Canario’
Victor Manuelle and others. Ralfi Santi ’50 Anniversary”
Richie Viruet jazz project
Edwin Perez “Directo Al Punto (Straight To The Point)”
Spanish Rice (led by Eddie Sanabria) jazz project
Carlos Jimenez jazz project
Rigo y su Obra Maestra
Joe Collado “The Sounds of Latin Groove Project”
Reunidos Por La Salsa
Dayhan Diaz Big Band “My City”
Bio Ritmo 30th
Rico Walker “Con Sabor y Cadencia”
Tony Castro Latin Jazz
Sammy Figueroa jazz project
Nelson Gonzalez’ Del Caribe All Stars
Roberto Garcia y su Latin Way “De Norte Al Sur”
Cubop City Big Band
Orquesta La Solucion (de PR)
La Paris All Star Orchestra “Los Escogidos Pt.3”
Connie Grossman “Chasing The Sunset”
Conjunto Colores (from Colorado)
And you can count on the flow of Christmas recordings expected to drop in the next few months.
And you can count on the flow of Christmas recordings expected to drop in the next few months.