EL MEDICO DE LA SALSA AT BIMBO'S
This year San Francisco Jazz Festival scaled down its Latin program. Even
scheduled Issac Delgado show was cancelled. Instead we heard once more, after
a 2 year absence, El Medico de la Salsa who now lives in Miami.
Most Bay Area Cuban music fans were in attendance, but no hard core Salseros.
Why? This band, like so many other visiting Cuban bands such as Bamboleo, Los
Van Van and others, do not play salsa per se. They play another Cuban invention
- Timba, a fusion of different music styles, from rock to rap. Don't agree?
No sweat. I don't pretend to be a scholar of Cuban music. This is a review of
an average listener, a dilettante who knows a thing or two about music. And
that's how it sounds to me.
These bands use full drum sets and a strong rock beat begins many songs.
Eventually you hear added percussions which add Latin flavor. One
distinguishing feature of this style - pervasive repetitive beats and week
melodies. With this music you cannot help but fall into a Cuban style salsa
dancing. But if you're used to more sophisticated tunes, these songs will
pretty soon appear monotonous. Often it's just rap and no melody at all.
However, Cuban musicians are invariably superb in all the visiting bands.
Russian-style free music training pays off (at least in this case). In one
jazzy instrumental piece El Medico's band demonstrated an inventive arrangement
and impeccable rendition with interesting solo improvisations.
Like flowers growing amid rocks, so many innovations came from people surviving
in oppressive regimes. In a country where access to "ready-to-consume" mass
culture is limited, this vivacious nation invents its own entertainment (think
of rueda) which wins fans all over the world.
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