It is officially the halfway mark of this year’s releases in Latin Jazz and Salsa and it has been a huge success so far with releases that span many different genres that continue to enrich our musical journey of knowledge.
Tito Puente Jr. has been speaking to us about a new recording that was in the works and while I was confused and thought it was a recording that had to do with his dad’s projects spearheaded by actor Edward James Olmos this new CD is Tito Puente Jr’s project appropriately titled “The King And I” (20 years after the passing of his dad). Junior and his wife, Rosalee, visited Margie Puente and looked through the many arrangements and came up with tracks by vocalists that recorded with TP Sr.
Marlow Rosado, who has been Junior’s Musical Director for over 20 years, came up with the idea of “20 Años” with the guest vocalists Jose Alberto ‘El Canario’, Domingo Quiñones, Frankie Negron and Michael Stuart. Michael Stuart does a fine job on the classic “Oye Como Va” that TP Jr. had never recorded but performed many times in live settings.
Domingo Quiñones kills it on “Para Los Rumberos” but then it gets more interesting with Meñique on the legendary “Niña y Señora”, Jose Alberto on “Salsa y Sabor”, Tony Vega on “Dejenme Soñar”, and Yolanda Duke (the only female vocalist in a Tito Puente Orchestra) doing “El Bribon Del Aguacero”.
Tito invites his brother to play vibes on “Hong Kong Mambo” and Humberto Ramirez (from his days at Tropijazz) to record “Picadillo” and two versions of “El Rey Del Timbal” with Sheila E. and her dad Pete Escovedo on the second version.
Listening to this you feel like you are at a Tito Puente concert and this one will generate a Grammy nomination next year. Tito Puente Jr. was my guest on my 50th Edition of El Condado De La Salsa y Jazz Latino radio show that was excellent timing for the man who turned 50 on June 2nd.
Tito De Gracia is one of the premier timbaleros not only in Salsa but also Latin Jazz. Tito De Gracia y sus Amigos Luisito Carrion, Puchi Colon, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Orlando Watussi, Norberto Velez, Carlos Garcia, Johnny Rivera, Edwin Lebrom, Wiki Gonzalez and Jose Alberto ‘El Canario’.
My favorites here are the Christian based “Quiero Dar Gracias Por Tu Amor” sung by Puchi Colon, Gilberto Santa Roas’ “No Es Casualidad”, Lusito Carrion’s “LO Que Soy”, Norbert’s “Esta Noche” and Orlando Watussi’s “La Verdad”.
Vocalist Chevy El Pitirre De La Salsa has been releasing singles throughout the past five years and finally release a full CD, “Enjaulado” (of course a reference to being ‘jailed’ by the pandemic), with a mix of mellower tracks that lean towards Salsa Romantica: “Yo Soy Aquel”, “Abre Camila’, “Aqui Mando Yo”, “Atrevidos Escapados”, “Modo De Avion” and then “Dos Testigos”, “El Mequetrefe”, Enjaulado” and the scorching “La Esquina Virtual”.
Okute, which means in the Yoruban religion ‘creator of the cold waters that brought shackled Africans to the port of Havana’ present an amazing CD dedicated to the fusion of voice and percussion in rumba music to perfection. Producer Jacob Plasse (Orquesta Akokan) is also assisted with arrangements by pianist Mike Eckroth in this enjoyable folkloric gem worthy of award consideration later this year.
Colombian Joseito Martinez made a name for himself decades ago with the bands from Cartagena, Barranquilla & Bogota: El Afrocombo de Pete Vicentini, Pacho Galan, Jimmy Sa;cedo, Joe Madrid, Los Ocho De Colombia, Joe Arroyo (as trumpeter), The Latin Brothers & Fruko y sus Tesos before forming his own band in 1987.
This new release, “Con El Mismo Swing”, has a couple of Cuban standards in “El Manisero” & “Mata Siguaraya” plus Salsa Romantica and cumbias.
Leonardo Garcia, who has had two previous impressive recordings, now comes back as Leonardo Garcia & Son Horizonte with the CD “La Fabrica” that is a combination of Salsa Romantica and Salsa Dura. “La Fabrica” introduces us to a host of new vocal talents that include Renzo Chaparro, Oscar Arriaga, Rafael Ortiz y El Tumbao Urbano, Jorge Nicolai Aviles, Alfredo Mojica, and Max Rosado. Max Rosado is featured on five Salsa In English tracks that I love: “What You Won’t Do For Love” (this Bobby Caldwell R&B hit has been done many times in Salsa), “Shape Of My Heart”, “Ribbon In The Sky” (by Stevie Wonder), “In The Stone” (by Earth, Wind & Fire) and “Fragile” (by Sting).
Veteran vocalist Hector ‘Pichie’ Perez surprised us with a new CD,” Canto Para Ti…Awee!”, his second solo project that includes a combination of Salsa Dura and a more romantic flair. Overall fans will enjoy his identifiable voice on “No Dejes Que De Digan Muñeca”, “Feliz-Infeliz”, “Par Ti Canto Yo”, “Medley De Boleros”, “Si Pero No” and “Cuyi”.
Excellent for DJ’s as they return to the clubs as well as all those outdoor festivals and of course Orchard Beach. Pichie was a huge voice for Sonora Ponceña for many years and is doing very well as a soloist.
And speaking of the Sonora Ponceña CD we were waiting for almost an entire year it hit the street this month with a new title from the one we announced months ago. “Hegemonia Musical” will be a fan favorite and is one of the hits of the summer. “Jubileo 65”, “Los Palos”, “Mi Son Candela”, and the latest “Nadie Toca Como Yo” were released as singles prior to the CD release.
You will find that some of this new material was released before but have new singers. Latin Jazz fans will love “Caminando Con Mi Papa” and Salseros will love “Salsa Que Cura To, “Luz Negra” and my favorite “Borrachera”.
Vinyl has become huge with both new fans, fascinated by what many veterans claim was their fascination with vinyl in the 60’s through the 80’s, and old school vinyl connoisseur. The fact that they are mostly available in limited runs and in many cases in color vinyl has helped. How funny that this trend was started by ‘pirates’ printing vinyl 12” LPs of older Fania albums out of print. In all reality we have not seen vinyl albums have been out of print throughout the 90’s and 2000’s. Artists are producing vinyl of recordings they own like Tito Rodriguez Jr., Steve Guasch, Craft Records with the Fania material and others.
Artists with new vinyl LPs include Conjunto Imagen, Spanish Harlem Orchestra, Tito Puente Jr., Edwin Perez, Steve Guasch & Nueva Era (already out), Josean Rivera, Buena Vibra Sextet, and many more.