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New CD Reviews by Rita - SalsaRoots.Com

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HAILA MOMPRIE: Tribute to Celia Cruz

From the time you hear the first song on the new album by Haila you know you’re in for a treat.  Haila Mompie was one of the original singers in Bamboleo and later she became the lead vocalist of Azucar Negra, a hot Cuban timba band.  This CD, her first solo effort. is her tribute to legendary salsera Celia Cruz and showcases some of her most well known songs.

The CD is produced by the multitalented Isaac Delgado and has renowned musicians such as Jesus Alfonso (of Los Muñequitos Matanzas) on quinto,  Mayito Rivera (from Los Van Van) and Paulito FG on vocals with arrangements by Jose Luis Cortes (from NG La Banda).  My favorites are Bemba Colora (#1), Sopita En Botella (#2), Me Voy Contigo (#5) and La Rosa (#6).  A wonderful addition to every salsera/o’s collection.

 

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ENTER STORE AND SEARCH FOR "HAILA"!

Orchesta Gitano—Salsa Gitano

This the second release for this innovative California Band.  SALSA GITANO is a unique CD that incorporates numerous styles of Latin music and infuses the songs with Salsa instrumentation and stylings.  They acknowledge that their music experimentation has been influenced many well known Bay Area Latin many composers and musicians such as Rebecca Mauleon-Santana (a wonderful pianist), Wayne Wallace (trombonist,) and John Calloway (flute and keyboards). The style of music (bolero, plena, cumbia, mozambique, yambu etc) is listed for each song allowing the listen to appreciate the diverse rhythms and melodies from Cuba, Puerto Rico and Central America.  If you haven’t heard of plena, yambu or rumba, check out www.salsaroots.com under dances for more info.  I particularly like the charanga arrangement and violin solos in Salsa Gitano (#3).  Buscando La Gen (#5) showcased plena rhythms with very jazzy trumpet riffs.  This is CD is particularly good for listening and getting a taste of the emerging trends in Salsa, Latin Jazz and beyond.

 

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Salsa Gitana

GRUPO CARIBE—Ritmo Nativo

Grupo Caribe is a NYC based band that performs Mambo/Salsa music.  They present songs that were made famous by Tito Puente, Johnny Pacheco, Ismael Rivera, Cortijo and some original compositions and arrangements.  Their latest CD “Ritmo Nativo” offers a wide variety of music styles and rhythms all wrapped up in bright red CD cover just in time for the holidays.  The selections on this CD range from the traditional mambos and cha cha chas to the less well-known Puerto Rican music styles of bomba and agüuinaldo.  I am particularly fond of (#2) Homenaje A Israel Rivera, famed Puerto Rican singer from the heyday of Fania All-Stars and the cha cha cha entitled “Machito, Puente Y Rodriguez “(#3), the true Mambo Kings.   “La Cuesta De Josephina” recorded in 1982 features a splendid cuartro solo by the legendary Yomo Toro.  There is a lot history and love that went into this CD.  Pity the liner notes are so skimpy.   They would helpful to for the listener to distinguish the different musical styles and understand more about the legendary Puerto Rican musicians who are recognized and are such an integral part of Salsa history.  This feels more like a CD to listen to in the car or at home than a real party CD.

 

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Ritmo Nativo

L.A. Carpool:  When Worlds Collide

If you like the more mainstream, polished sound of Salsa Romantica, I think you will like the debut CD for  L.A. Carpool entitled “When Worlds Collide”.  Many of their songs are sung in English and their sound is very clean and highly orchestrated.  Several of their selections cleverly feature electric guitar riffs, which I seldom hear used on Salsa CDs.  Their musical stylings are reminiscent of Orquesta De La Luz, a now disbanded Japanese Salsa band that was popular in the early 90’s.  Most of the music is moderate tempo and easy to listen to.  My favorites are Mi Guajira (# 1), Incognito (#4), the ballad Undertow (#5) and the lively up tempo Buscame Un Doctor (#9).  So if you are a beginning dancer or a new listener just getting used to dynamic, diverse sounds of Salsa—L.A. Carpool is a good place to start.

 

cover

When Worlds Collide

 

LAST MONTHS REVIEWS: 11/2001

 

BAND: Charanga Habanera

ALBUM: CHAN CHAN CHARANGA!

Charanga Habanera was the first Timba band from Cuba that attracted with my attention 4 years ago.  When I heard their CD “Love Fever” ( Me sube la fiebre), I was completely blown away by their spine tingling, bold trumpet section ( reminiscent of 70’s bands such as Earth Wind and Fire),  sparklingly piano montunos, hard driving rhythm section and infectious spirit.  Their latest release, “Chan…Chan…Charanga” is a treat for devoted followers to timba and it will hopefully attract more faithful listeners.  When I hear their hard and fast rhythms, I can barely sit still. I have to get up and dance.

TIMBA has traveled far beyond Cuba.  It is performed all over the world  and continues to change as it absorbs influences from other musical styles. "Chan…Chan…Charanga"  clearly borrows and transforms harmonies and rhythms from hip-hop, rap and reggae.  But the traditional Afro-Cuban rhythms continue to be the foundation (a.k.a. roux for all you cooks out there) that holds together  this rich musical gumbo.

My favorite selections include the moderate tempo dance tunes Pila Cerra (#2), La Vecina (#3), Mambo #Cuba, a romantic ballad-Mi Vida Sin Tu Amor (#8) and finally their distinctive rendition of the Cuban standard “Chan Chan“(#11).  Chan Chan is one of the “son” musical numbers featured in the ground breaking movie “Buena Vista Social Club”. Whenever I hear it, I am transported back to the cobblestone streets of Havana, full of mystery and passion.  In this wonderful CD David Calzado, leader of Charanga Habanera, pays tribute to Cuba’s rich musical past while  moving forward to a bright, exciting musical future. 

 

BAND: Osvaldo Chacon Y Su Timba

ALBUM: SALSA AFROCUBANA

This one was a real surprise since I was not  familiar with Osvaldo Chacon. But watch out for this guy!  He is real powerhouse and I hope we will be hearing more from him in the future.  When I listened more closely ,I realized that Osvaldo Chacon is the  former lead singer with Bamboleo.  His vocal stylings are clear as a bell and very captivating.  He has also worked with Paulito FG and El Medico de la Salsa and brings a mellow, sensual flavor to his timba music.  This CD fuses elements of jazz phrasing, timba and hard core Salsa—all enhanced by wonderful singers.   I hope they tour in the US—I suspect that you have to see and feel them live to fully appreciate the passion and complexity of their music.

In a recent interview, Chacon said about  the timba style he performs: "The music, at times, can seem very charged, but you just listen to the bass line and/or the clave and forget all those spins. But then that wild climax arrives and partners separate and relax into themselves - moving down, rising up, shaking it as and when the music tells you. But it's sensual - not sexual."

My personal favorites include “Tengo vicio”(#1) a sensual, subtle salsa, Segundas Partes (#2) which mixes latin jazz accents and timba (outstanding piano stylings).  For all you old school salseros, Cha-cha-cha mona (#4), a captivating Cha Cha Cha.  I always love to have great Cha Cha Chas on new albums.  They are really fun to dance to and hopefully the DJs will be playing more of this type of music in the clubs.

A great debut album and hopefully we will be hearing much more from Osvaldo Chacon Y Su Timba.

 

BAND: ARAMIS GALINDO

ALBUM: ESTO TIENE COHIMBRE

Another surprisingly  polished, high energy debut timba CD from this accomplished  vocalist. Aramis Galindo has worked with Aldalberto Alvarez, Manolito Simonet and Joaquin Betancourt.  These experiences have amply prepared him to take center stage with his own group.  He knows what the Timba public wants (rhythm, passion and soul) and he truly delivers.  This CD will definitely have you dancing in the streets.  Talk to your local DJs and be sure they start playing this one for all you and your friends. His voice is clear, pure, and loud. This release rocks, and is must-have for your Cuban timba collection.

My favorites include Canto A Mia Manera (#2) with clear vocals  that float over hard driving rhythms and sparkling horn sections,  Dime Se Me Va A Querer (#5) and  Canto A Mi Negra both of which I think the Rueda dancers will particularly like.  Finally , I am also quite fond of  No Hay Como El Son (#8) since it really showcases Galindo’s heartfelt, powerful voice.

The holidays will be here soon and these CDs would l be great for a Salsa house party.  Push back the furniture, invite your favorite salseros and salseras and have a great time.

 

Other Favorites:

Tabaco Y Ron's Que Se Sepa
Editor's Pick from Descarga:
 Tabaco Y Ron is  one of the West Coast’s most exciting Salsa bands.  Their high-energy, hard-edged brand of  salsa really appeals to devoted salsa dancers. The sizzling arrangements of Hector Manuel coupled with the exceptional vocal work by Martin Padilla makes this CD a real winner.   My favorites on this CD include Que Se Sepa (Tabaco Y Ron 'Ta En La Casa){#1), Salsa Pa' Los Triunfadores (#5) and Mienteme (#11).   Que Se Sepa, their second release is bound to be as popular as their first CD and we look forward to seeing them perform in the Bay Area in the near future.

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