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SALSA

A text from Martin Morales

 

What is called salsa music today is a mix of afro-carribean rhythms like Son Montuno, Mambo, Bomba y Plena and many others.

Some people believe that salsa was originated from Cuba. Others think it originated in Puerto Rico. The reality is that the movement that originated this new music or Salsa began in New York. There a group of young musicians began mixing sounds and rhythms trying to come up with a new one that would be different but at the same time that would have the "SABOR" that the others afro-caribbean rhythms had.

Some of these musicians include Ray Barreto, Bobby Valentin, Hector Lavoe, Willie Colon, Richie Ray, Bobby Cruz, Ismael Miranda, Adalberto Santiago, Pete el Conde and many others. Of course the list would not be complete if we don't mention the great ones like Cortijo and of course "el negrito" Ismael Rivera.

These artists were playing the streets of New York City long before Johnny Pacheco and Jerry Masucci created "FANIA", the record label that brought the rhythm to the public stream.

During the 70's Salsa music basicly exploded and got the attention of the entire world. Now you can go to Japan and say "Salsa" and everybody knows what you are talking about.

The music that was created during that time is what is considered as Classic Salsa. Today salsa music keeps going strong even with the popularity that "Merengue" and "Latin Rock" have today.

Salsa was the result of a musical evolution of various types of Latin rhythms. It began in New York in the 30's taking influences along the way from different Latin music styles and afro jazz. Because of the social and political pressures and restraints enforced in Cuba and Puerto Rico, many people emigrated and fled into exile to New York and various other cities of the U.S.A.

It was these Caribbeans who grew up in the Spanish Harlem of New York that cooked up this special recipe together with other musicians in the Caribbean. A couple of visionaries saw the opportunity to popularize this contagious music.

The orchestra leader, Johnny Pacheo, and the film director Jerry Masucci founded a small record label called Fania and organized a concert in the Autumn of 1973 which was to have an incredible impact on the history of Latin music.After several invited groups had performed,the announcer at the Yankee Stadium in New York began running down the list of stars which were to be named THE FANIA ALL STARS.

This incredible line-up did not even finish their first song before most of the 40,000 crowd launched themselves onto the pitch to get closer to stars like Victor Paz, Willie Colon, Ray Barreto, Bobby Valentin, Larry Harlow, Hector Lavoe and Cheo Feliciano. The concert was stopped and the controversy surrounding the events that occured gave Jerry Masucci the chance to make a film to promote Salsa.

The film "Salsa", edited from the film footage of the concert and encorporating images taken from the archives of Hollywood where famous scenes and people were shown dancing and singing supposedly Salsa rhythms, appealed to the American consumer society because it interpreted salsa as another "Made in the USA" product.

'Fania' was the main contributor to the boom of what was called the " Latin sound of New York " in which many other already well established artists such as Tito Puente and Celia Cruz had been part of.

Johnny Pacheco and Jerry Masucci had produced an exportable good which toured the world creating an opening for Latin music where ever they were. Some of the music was original but some was stolen from Cuban artists; something which could be done because of the blockade with Cuba.

From 1992 the Fania All Stars recorded various albums, many of them from concerts in which their music was a mixture of jazz and Afro - Caribbean rhythms, but in 1974 Jerry Masucci wanted to create something new.

In this year they recorded the album "Latin soul rock", a commercial project which tried to mix Latin music and the varios other styles with the greatest international popularity. What saved the album from being a flop was a song by Cheo Feliciano called "El raton" or "the mouse", the first real success of the Salsa boom.

Because of its commercial aim and financial success, Fania was accused of being a traitor and the boom began to die down.Fortunately this did not happen to the other Salsa which was being produced on the caribbean streets of New York.

Salsa has been through some years of instability. The 70's witnessed the Salsa boom but in the 80's the "romantic" and "erotic" Salsa became popular, generally with simple lyrics and poor orchestral arrangements.The people responsible for this movement were Lalo Rodriguez, Eddie Santiago and Gilberto Santa Rosa among others. The 'Salsa Romantica' movement irratated the salseros but interested a new audience and their records sold well accross the world.

Another phenomenon was the speedy rise in popularity of the King of Merengue, Juan Luis Guerra, who through his concerts and records has created great appeal among the youth of today.

Now, in the 1990's, it can be said that music is reaching the youth of the Americas and other countries across the world, but only because of its diversification in styles, from the traditional Son Cubano and Mambo of the 30's to the New York Salsa of the 70's and 80's. We now have "Salsa Rap", "Techno Merengue" and "Merengue Rap".


India

Ray Sepulveda

Oscar D Leon

Larry Harlow

Ibrahim Face

Fruko

Domingo Quinonez

Cheo Feliciano

Gilberto Santa Rosa

Isaac Delgado

Johnny Pacheco



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Last Update: 06.10.2005
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