Teach Me the Rhythm

January Playlist Highlights

Song

iTunes

Artist

Category

Origin

Ritmo de pollo Ritmo de Pollo - 20 Superhits Charangueros Fajardo y sus Estrellas 1950s Charanga Cuba
Mi Gran Pasion Mi Gran Pasión - Mi Gran Pasión Gonzalo Rubalcaba Danzón Cuba
Tintorera Ya Llegó Tintorera Ya Llegó - Legendary Sessions Chano Pozo y Arsenio Rodríguez Son Montuno Cuba
Tres Lindas Cubanas Tres Lindas Cubanas - Grabaciones Completas 1925-1931 Volumen 1: Tres Lindas Cubanas Sexteto Y Septeto Havanero Son Cuba
Chirrín chirrán Chirrín Chirrán - Colección Juan Formell y Los Van Van, Vol. II Los Van Van Songo Cuba
Bacalao con Pan Bacalao Con Pan - Irakere: Coleccion, Vol. 1 Irakere Modern Jazzband Cuba
Changui Clave Changui Clave - Elio Revé y Su Charangón (Vol. 2) Elio Revé y su Charangón Charangón Cuba
Nube Pasajera Nube pasajera - Pa' Que Se Entere la Habana Charanga Habanera Timba Cuba
Hablando en Serio Hablando en Serio - Hablando en Serio Manolito Simonet y Su Trabuco Timba Cuba
Pegaíto, pegaíto Pegaíto, pegaíto - Estamos pegaos Manolín, El Médico De La Salsa Timba Cuba
Oru Seco Opening: Orun Seco - Yemayá I Abbilona Yoruba – batá Cuba
Makuta Makuta - Iyabakua - Afro-Cuban Traditional Music

Afrekete

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

 

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The Greatest Salsa Label Ever

July Playlist Highlights

Song

Artist

Category

Origin

Mi Gente Mi Gente - Hector Lavoe - Greatest Hits Hector Lavoe Salsa USA
Calle Luna Calle Sol Calle Luna Calle Sol - The Original Gangster Willie Colón y Hector Lavoe Salsa USA
Pedro Navaja Pedro Navaja - Ruben Blades - Greatest Hits Ruben Blades Salsa Panama
Anacaona Anacaona - Buena Vista Social Music Cheo Feliciano Salsa Puerto Rico
Mi Desastre Mi Desastre - Tiene Que Ser Manolín Manolin Salsa Cuba
Al Final de la Vida Al Final de la Vida - Super Salsa Summer 2012 Havana D’ Primera Salsa Cuba
El Jala Jala Elito Reve Jr. Salsa Cuba
La Llave de Mi Corazón La Llave de Mi Corazón (feat. Yunel Cruz) - Don Omar Presents MTO2 - New Generation Yunel Cruz y Don Omar Bachata USA
Amiga Veneno Amiga Veneno (Mi Nina Veneno) - Novia Mia Zacarias Ferreira Bachata Dominican Republic
Enamorada De Ti Enamorada de Ti (feat. Juan Magan) [Merengue Mix] - Enamorada de Ti Selena ft Juan Magan Merengue USA
La Luz De Mi Vida Zol y Luna Merengue USA
Boogaloo Blues Boogaloo Blues - Boogaloo Blues Johnny Colon Boogaloo USA

 

Fania

I was recently listening to a great double CD retrospective of music from the Fania Records label called “Fania Records 1964 – 1980”.  Not only does the compilation highlight many of the artists that were signed to the label but it also includes an excellent 32 page booklet that gives a bit of the back story on Fania and its incredible success.  Fania Records was probably the most successful label to release Salsa music.  Though the label didn’t invent Salsa as a musical genre and Salsa wasn’t the only type of music released by the label, Fania Records was the first to take what had traditionally been an assortment of distinct afro-Caribbean rhythms and produce and market them as a uniform sound (the “Fania Sound”).

Fania Records was the brainchild of musician/band leader Johnny Pacheco who with the help of his divorce lawyer, Jerry Masucci, made the label a reality in 1964.  It had humble beginnings and apparently the two started out by selling albums in Spanish Harlam from the trunks of their cars.  However, they were fortunate to have signed some great talent early on including Larry Harlow, Ray Barretto, Willie Colon and Hector Lavoe.  The talents of these artists complimented those of Pacheco’s and the label quickly grew based on the popularity of their music.  That said, the label didn’t really take off until the early Seventies when Masucci worked with a New York club owner, Ralph Mercado, to organize a couple of very successful live performances.  One of these performances was held at the Cheetah Club in Manhattan.  The concert featured the talents of Fania’s super group, the Fania All-Stars.  The evening was a huge success and Masucci had the event recorded and released as a movie called Our Latin Thing.  The next legendary performance was held at Yankee Stadium in 1973 in front of a crowd of over 60, 000 people.  The performance was also filmed and released under the title Salsa.

Through the Seventies Fania grow at a steady rate signing much of the top Latin talent in the US and releasing some of the most well know Salsa music along with way.  However, by the early Eighties many artists were dissatisfied with the fees Fania was paying them and were moving to other labels.  On top of that, it was rumored that the label was having financial difficulties, which may have been the reason why Masucci left the US for Argentian with an agenda “to play tennis”.   Masucci retained ownership in the label and was the sole owner by the early Ninties at which time Fania was a shadow of its 1970’s glory.  He did make a few attempts to revive the Fania legacy including a 1996 visit to Cuba were he signed Paulito FG and Dan Den to a new label called Nueva Fania.  Unfortunately, Masucci died in 1997 before this  label could develop any momentum.

Though the Fania label is now controlled by Signal-Equity its enormus catalogue of music is still available and hugely popular.  You can find most if not all of the Fania albums at the Fania website.

Questions, comments, requests? Send me an email

Hasta la próxima

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