January Playlist Highlights
|Ritmo de pollo||Fajardo y sus Estrellas||1950s Charanga||Cuba|
|Mi Gran Pasion||Gonzalo Rubalcaba||Danzón||Cuba|
|Tintorera Ya Llegó||Chano Pozo y Arsenio Rodríguez||Son Montuno||Cuba|
|Tres Lindas Cubanas||Sexteto Y Septeto Havanero||Son||Cuba|
|Chirrín chirrán||Los Van Van||Songo||Cuba|
|Bacalao con Pan||Irakere||Modern Jazzband||Cuba|
|Changui Clave||Elio Revé y su Charangón||Charangón||Cuba|
|Nube Pasajera||Charanga Habanera||Timba||Cuba|
|Hablando en Serio||Manolito Simonet y Su Trabuco||Timba||Cuba|
|Pegaíto, pegaíto||Manolín, El Médico De La Salsa||Timba||Cuba|
|Oru Seco||Abbilona||Yoruba – batá||Cuba|
|Bantu – makuta||Cuba|
Beyond Salsa for Beginners, An Introduction to Latin Music for Dancers and Listeners – Reviewed
For anyone interested in Cuban Timba or Cuban music in general a great web resource is Timba.com. One of the driving forces behind the site is its co-founder and musical editor Kevin Moore. Not only does Kevin help maintain the site he also writes books, a lot of books, on the subject of Cuban music. I have been meaning to get a hold of one of these for a while but have made the excuse that they are intended for musicians or aspiring musicians or people with more musical background than me. That was my excuse up until last November when he released Beyond Salsa for Beginners – An Introduction to Latin Music for Dancers and Listeners. I may not be a musician or musically talented but I do love to dance and am pretty passionate about Latin music so no more excuses. I picked up a copy of the book shortly before Christmas and have been working my way through it since.
At 250 pages Beyond Salsa for Beginners is not large but I am amazed at how long it’s taken me to get through it. I’m a slow reader for sure but the book truly is packed full of really interesting info and stacks of song suggestions. I have probably spent triple the time listening to the musical suggestions from the book as I have reading it. The point here is that Beyond Salsa for Beginners is really not meant to be absorbed in an evening but is something that should be enjoyed and studied over a period of time to truly get the benefit of all the details that are packed into it.
The book starts off by layout out its intended purpose with the following three goals:
- To give you a working knowledge of the full history of this (Latin) music
- To increase your appreciation with some basic clapping, singing and dancing exercised to help you understand how it all fits together
- To provide a little inside information for those taking dances classes, attending concerts and traveling to Cuba.
These goals are achieved through two major components, Listening Tours and Rhythmic Exercises, each of which are accompanied by audio tracks. The rhythmic exercises highlight different rhythms that make up Cuban music with each rhythm being available as an audio download. There are over one hundred audio tracks associated with the rhythmic exercises, which you can download for free without even buying the book. That said, the tracks are of limited value without the explanations that the book provides. What’s cool about the audio downloads is that they make the rhythm diagrams in the book come alive by allowing the reader (listener) to hear, internalize and even practice each rhythm. Personally, I have found the exercises really useful for my own appreciation of Latin music and salsa dancing.
The other major component of the book is the Listening Tours. There are 4 tours in all covering Cuban Pre-Revolution, Post-Revolution, Timba and Folkloric music. A list of recommended listening tracks is provided for each tour with each track being selected to showcase the musical genres associated with that tour. Additionally, there is also a section by selection break of each track so that you can get an understanding of what is going on in the song. A long lists of further listening suggestions is also provided so that if you like a particular genre you can easily explore it further. I have used these suggestions extensively to expand my own musically library. Unfortunately, the recommended listening tracks are not available as a download with the book so you have to hunt them down yourself. I have included a few of my favourites in this month’s playlist and if you listen to only one song from that list make it Bacalao con Pan by Irakere. My jaw almost hit the floor when I heard that song for the first time, it’s that good. I should add a caveat here that the book identifies very specific versions of each track so that the break downs match up with the track. As I wasn’t always able to find the versions specified in the book the tracks in my playlist may not be identical to those in the listening tours.
In conclusion, if you are a salsero(a) and love to listen to and/or dance to Cuban music I would highly recommend this book. At the very least it will give you with a deeper appreciation of the rhythms that make up the songs that you enjoy and provide you with suggestions of other songs to check out. Beyond Salsa for Beginners may also be worth a look if you find Cuban music a little inaccessible. It will provided you with insight into how intricate and evolutionary (and revolutionary) Cuban music is and also how dancable it can be. Ultimately, at $30 for the printed copy or$15 for a digital copy it’s an inexpensive tool to expand your knowledge of and love for Latin music.
One last thing speaking of Cuban music, there a couple of upcoming Cuban music/dance events to mark on your calender:
- If you are in Edmonton, Alberta on January, 19th you will want to check out Timbachata, a Salsaddiction Dance Party at Expressionz Café.
- If you are in San Francisco, California any time between February 14-17 you will want to check out the San Francisco Rueda Festival, the largest Cuban music and dance Festival in the U.S.!!
Questions, comments, requests? Send me an email or leave a comment below.
Hasta la próxima