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Home » El Condado De La Salsa y Jazz Latino Hot Picks May 2024 by Nelson Rodriguez

El Condado De La Salsa y Jazz Latino Hot Picks May 2024 by Nelson Rodriguez

Looking at what’s happening in our music today we see too any bad Salsa singers who have no business recording or trying to make comebacks. Some of these older veterans just don’t have the chops anymore (Willie Gonzalez on the new Victor Manuelle recording or Raulin Rosendo’s latest attempt are just two examples). Live performances from these performers on YouTube are there to view for the scrutiny they are getting and it’s a shame. Then there are those who keep dropping one single after another with each passing year and never get any better.

On a high note Fania Records celebrates their 60th anniversary with a series of re-issues that hit their 50th anniversary plus other iconic recordings many in some brilliant color vinyl’s for collectors. What I find amazing and respect at the same time is the pricing of these180 gram vinyl’s under $40.00 while other artists charge way more for a lesser quality. I’ve had the pleasure of playing on my radio shows some of these classics such as Hector Lavoe’s “La Voz” & “Comedia”, La Lupe’s “The Queen Of Latin Soul”, Joe Bataan’s debut “Gypsy Woman”, Willie Colon’s “Crime Pays”, “El Juicio” & “Wanted For The Big Break”, Tito Puente’s “El Rey Bravo” & “Para Los Rumberos”, Fania All Stars :Live at The Cheetah Vol.1 & 2” & “Latin-Soul-Rock”, Joe Cuba Sextet’s “Vagabuneando”, Ray Barretto’s “Indestructible” & “Que Viva La Musica” just to name a few with many more to come throughout the year.

Victor Manuelle that while being a Salsa Romantica artists always has swing in his music but here takes a turn on his new release “Retromantico” where he pays tribute to the Salsa Romantica era of the 90’s in a vinyl form. He is joined by some of the best singers from that Salsa Romantica period Gilberto Santa Rosa, Johnny Rivera & Maelo Ruiz, the virtually generated Frankie Ruiz duet and the lead track sung with Tito Nieves “Cosas Del Amor”.

One of the hottest new salsa CD’s that just came out is “Quintero’s Salsa Project y sus Amigos” by the cousins Luisito & Roberto Quintero that is highlighted by the powerful tracks “El Hijo Del Sonero” sung by Willy Garcia that has already proven to be both a radio hit as well as a club favorite. Then you have the swing gems sung by some of today’s hottest vocalists Jeremy Bosch, Marcial Isturiz, Alexander Abreu, Santiago Moyano, Starlyn Benitez, Mauro Castillo and Roland Borjas.

Ronald Borjas himself has a new CD “Joyas Que Bailan” with seven tracks that include the hits

Edwin “El Calvito’ Reyes has been kicking out one hit after another for several years and had finally combined them in his full CD debut “Asi Es Mi Salsa Nueva”. You can now get “Ahora Me Toca A Mi” with Joe Lopez, “Asi Llamaban Al Conde”, “Dos Pa’ Lante” with Melina Almodovar and the opening track “Esto Es Salsa Nueva”. Other collaborations with Izis La Enfermera De La Salsa & Lluvia y sus Soneros are also included.

Las Karamba are an all-female band from Barcelona, Spain that combine a range of Cuban rhythms on their second release “Te Lo Digo Cantando” with Ahyvin Bruno on vocals and her sister Ahylin on congas. “Un Rato Nah Mas”, “Duele”, “No Todo Es Lo Que Parece” and “Desde Que Llegaste” are my picks here for airplay.

The Mexican band Kalavera Orquesta formed by conguero Uzziel Ismael in Mexico City is back with their second recording, “Tiempo” that opens with a smoking descarga “Sin Kalavera No Hay Gozadera” with great improvisations by Ismael on tumbadoras, Ignacio Gomez on timbal, Edgar Perez on piano and Diego Chipitingo on bongo. Josse Manuel Chemany does a fine job on “Humildad” and Awilda Hernandez on “Irreversible” and the track “Baila Conmigo” is a Salsa Romantica that should do well.

Sheila E (Escovedo) makes her Salsa debut, “Bailar”, with special guests that include Ruben Blades doing Cheo Feliciano’s classic “Anacaona”, Gloria Estefan & Mimy Succar on The Fania All Stars/Celia Cruz hit “Bemba Colora”, Victor Manuelle on “Buena Gente”, Luis Enrique & Tony Succar on “Bailar”, Gilberto Santa Rosa on “El Rey Del Timbal”, Jose Alberto ‘El Canario’ and her dad Pete escovedo on “Descarga”.

Sheila is also working on three new albums before the year is out with her E Train band, a gospel and Christmas album.

Guasabara is a Puerto Rican band led today by the late director Jose Lugo’s son JoseMa Lugo who is also the bands vocalist. “Buscando Balas” is the first big hit from this new recording.

From Holland we have the debut of Mambisimo Big Band “Mambo & Latin Jazz-5 Años (A Trip To The Golden Age of The Great Latin Big Bands)”. It is led by Jeroen Kleijkers with the primary arrangements by trumpeter Michale Phlilip Mossman. Mostly covers of classics like “Chango Ta Veni”, “Afro Blue”, “Sofrito”, “Mi Ritmo Llego”, “Ban Ban Quere”, “Mambo Birdland” and “Azulito”.

Ex-Pete Perignon vocalist Willito Otero has been making a name for himself in Puerto Rico and is considered one of the best new young vocalists and finally has his own debut “4/20” (the date of his birth). The swinging track is “Rumba W” while the rest of the CD is a mix of cha cha cha, romantic salsa, and Son Montuno that highlights his unique voice.

Pianist Javier Fernandez Big Band has another winner in his Eternal Classic series titled “Imagenes: The Eternal Classic IV”, ten years after his debut in 2014, with Javier’s compositions. The vocalists shine on this dancer’s delight including Victor Garcia on “Medley Nacho La Runidera” in honor of the great Nacho Sanabria, Osvaldo Roman on “Imagenes”, Trina Medina on “Llego La Que Tu Esperabas”, Herman Olivera on “Mi Mujer Me Quiere”, Jeremy Bosch on “No Creas”, Jerry Medina on “Magdalena’s Boogaloo” and the amazing instrumental “Sasha’s Walk” that features saxophonist Frankie Perez, percussionist Raul Rosario & Javier Fernandez on piano.

Gianna Tam is a bright new talented vocalist and percussionist that just released her third recording (made her debut in 2009) “Latina Empire”. She’s the daughter of Dutch percussionist/drummer Lucas Van Merwjik and currently lives in Holland.  The recording is comprised of covers of Willie Colon/Ruben Blades “Buscando Guayaba”, Michael Jackson’s “I Wanna Be Where You Are”, Luther Vandross’”never Too Much”, Gloria Esteban’s “Conga” (that originally featured the icon piano solo by Paquito Hechevarria), and The Weekends “Blinding Lights”.

Oscar Hernandez is a 4-Time Grammy winner that’s always busy with the final mix being done on the new Spanish Harlem Orchestra that will have as a guest Gilberto Santa Rosa but just released Oscar Hernandez & Alma Libre (The New York Band) “No Words Needed” with an array of rhythms that will please true fans of Latin Jazz. The New York vibe has the extraordinaire contributions from Bob Francheschini, John Benitez, Robby Ameen, & Samuel Torres with special guests Alex Norris & Andrea Brachfeld. Oscar wrote some gems that will be on many radio playlists: “No Words Needed”, “The Brave One”, “Morning Sun”, “Rise Above”, “Hip-notized” and “Jazz Pal Mambo”.

Chicago born Baritone Saxophonist Dave Schumacher & Cubeye is a new name in our Latin Jazz world, even though he’s a long time veteran in the New York Jazz scene, with the CD “Smoke In The Sky” making some noise at radio with some great musicians that include Manuel Valera, Peter Brainin, Joe Mateo, Alex ‘Apolo’ Ayala, Mauricio Herrera, Josh Evans and Jesus Ricardo. All eight tracks on the CD are fantastic selections but my favorites are “You Know It’s Wrong”, “Poinciana”, “Caridad”, “Walk Spirit Talk Spirit”, “Smoke In Ther Sky” and “El Dilema De Chegui Metralla”.

Zaccai Curtis, with his brother Luques, have had a wonderful venture as The Curtis Brothers and their record label Truth Revolution Recording Collective but just recently Zaccai dropped his own project, “Cubop Lives”, that will quickly become one of this year’s best Latin Jazz CD’s. With support from Luques and the percussionists Willie Martinez III, Carlos Molina & Reinaldo DeJesus. There are four awesome versions of the standards “Woody N’ You”, “Minor’s Holiday”, “Cuban Fantasy: & “Moose the Mooch”. Then you have four Noro Morales vintage numbers” “Oye Men”, “Stomboli”, “Maria Cervantes” and “Rumbambola”. One of my favorites besides the ones mentioned is Zaccai’s own composition “Earl”.

What a pleasant surprise to see a new Victor Rendon Bronx Conexion Latin Jazz Big Band’s new CD “Funky Frijoles” with so many musicians that have been a part of Victor’s career for so many years. This chemistry of musicians who are all ‘Hall of Famers’: Jessica Valiente, Chembo Corniel, Rick Faulkner, Michael Viñas (Seis Del Solar fame), Joe Stelluti, Paul Carlon, Peter Brainin and Victor himself on the improvisation showcases. The standout tracks on this CD are “Black Water”, “Bronx De tour”, “Basta!”, “Morningside”, “Funky Frijoles” and “Malagueña Salserosa”.

Gus Rodriguez is a pianist that has also surprised us with the CD “De Jazz En Cuando” with his great arrangements. The sextet that also includes trumpeter Jhon Martez, saxophonist Jose Ernesta Paez, drummer Otoniel Nicolas, bassist Ernesto Nuñez and percussionist Edgar Zambrano shines on “Lenguetazo En Coconut Grove”, the Cha Cha Cha “Un Domingo En La Zona”, the Afro Jazz “Jakagua” and “In the Tropical Forest”.

Also digitally available is the 7th release from Orchestra Fuego, led by pianist Marcus Hernandez, “Nostalgia”, covering some of the greatest voices in American music over the decades like James Brown’s “I Feel Good”, sung by Edwin Lebron, Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Gon On”, Ella Fitzgerald’s “Cry Me A River”, & “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. “Nostalgia” also showcases new vocal talents Karla Cruz, David D’, Rangee, Robert Requena, Victoria Miller, and Kharina Rovira.

Josimar Diego Alejandro Fidel Farfan, simply known as Josimar, is a Peruvian vocalist starting to make a name for himself in the past few years and his recording “Al Son De La Ultima Leyenda- Tributo a Ismael Miranda” will help introduce to the older generation of ‘Salsa Dura’ fans. Most will recognize him as Yosimar y su Yambu. The tribute includes the Miranda hits “Asi Se Compone Un Son”, “Maria Luisa”, “Borinquen Tiene Montuno”, “No Me Digas Que Es Muy Tarde” and “Señor Sereno”.

Getting back to Fania’s 60th anniversary distributed by Craft Records…Craft also acquired in the past years labels like Mardi Gras from NY founded in 1954 by Jerry Winston that had Joe Cuba, Al Castellanos, and La Playa Sextet each very popular in the 50’s, Craft also purchased the Cuban label Panart founded by Ramon Sabot who was a musician/engineer in 1943 and became the first independent label in Cuba. The immense catalog includes The Cuban Jam Sessions, Fajardo y sus Estrellas, Barbarito Diez, Conjunto Casino, Orquesta America del 55, La Sonora Matancera (and their many singers), Chico O’Farrill, Orquesta Riverside, Conjunto Chappottin, Orquesta Reve, Peruchin, Cachao, Roberto Faz, Conjunto Rumbavana, and about thirty -five more artists and multiple historic recordings.

Cotique purchased in 1971 had the bulk of the Boogaloo/Latin Soul artist of the genre in Johnny Colon. The Lebron Brothers, The Lat-Teens, The Latinaires and some of the smokin’ Salsa of the time being recorded by the New Swing Sextet, Chivirico Davila, Markolino Dimond with Frankie Dante, Meñique, The Big Kimbos Ft. Adalberto Santiago, Johnny Rivera & The Tequila Brass, Joey Pastrana, The TNT Band, Frankie Dante & Orquesta Flamboyan, Louie Ramirez, Chollo Rivera & Latin Soul Drive, Ray Jay & the Eastsiders, Roy Roman, Ray Rodriguez y su Orchestra, Tito Ramos, Baby Gonzalez con La Orquesta Riviera, Charlie Palmieri, Gilberto Sextet, Alfredito, Russell Cohen y su Conjunto La New Yorker, La Nueva Explosion,  Pipo y La Superior and Machito and his Orchestra.

Alegre Records founded in Ny 1955 by Al Santiago was the direct competitor to Tico Records in the 60’s and then sold to Branston Music in 66 then Roulette Records and finally to Fania along with Tico (hence the Tico Alegre All Stars). The first recording was by Pacheco y su Charanga followed by Ricardo Ray, Pete Rodriguez, Alfredito Valdes, Eddie Palmieri y su Conjunto La Perfecta, Mon Rivera, Willie Rosario, Charlie Palmieri y su Charanga La Duboney, Orlando Marin, Kako, Vitin Aviles, the Alegre All-Stars, Louie Ramirez y su Conjunto Chango, Tito Allen, Angel Canales, Gene Hernandez y Novedades, Roberto Anglero y su Congregacion, La Playa Sextet cantando Tito Rodriguez, Yayo El Indio, Javier Vazquez y su Salsa, King Nando, Ray Olan y su Sason, Ruben Blades with the Pete Rodriguez Orchestra, Dioris Valladares, Tito Puente, Vladimir (great Latin Jazz) & his Orchestra, Sabu Martinez, Babo Jimenez y su Banda, Cabrerita y sus Ideas, Tony Pabon & his All Stars, Orlando Watussi, Fuego 77, Frankie Figueroa con la Orquesta de Willie Rosario, Kako & Azuquita, Roberto Roena y sus Megatones, Gilberto Monroig with Tito Puente, Celio Gonzalez, Manny Burgos, Chacon y su Orquesta, Puerto Rico All Stars Ft. Kako.

Tico Records had Tito Rodriguez, Tito Puente, Ray Barreto, La Lupe, Los Rumberos de Cuba, Joe Loco, Eddie Palmieri, Ismael Rivera y Los Cachimbos, Hector Rivera, The Joe Cuba Sextet, Vicentico Valdes, Machito and His Orchestra, Celia Cruz,  Pupi Legarreta, Arsenio Rodriguez, Graciela with Machito, Ruth Fernandez with Machito, Willie Bobo, Miguelito Valdes, Tico All Stars, Candido, Orchestra Broadway, Al Escobar, Eddie Palmieri & Cal T’ Jader, Jimmy Sabater, the Gilberto Sextet, Pete Terrace, Dominico Acevedo La Orquesta Panamericana de Lito Peña, Santos Colon, and Rafael Cortijo y Ismael Rivera.

All these labels, and others that were purchased by Craft (Concord), are being re-issued for es MP3 downloads or on the anniversary of its original release on vinyl. For many fans from this generation all of these are gems worth having in your collections.

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