There is some music that exists solely for the purpose of setting into motion a certain hind portion of the body. The galloping timbales... the insistent accent of the clav'... brass horn stabs punctuating the beat... the syncopation of the cowbells... [more]
There is some music that exists solely for the purpose of setting into motion a certain hind portion of the body. The galloping timbales... the insistent accent of the clav'... brass horn stabs punctuating the beat... the syncopation of the cowbells and bongos... Even those too shy to step out on the dance floor are helpless to control involuntary head bobbing.
This is the exuberant concoction known as salsa: one part African roots, one part Caribbean stylings, plus a healthy dollop of Spanish language. The secret behind its addictive nature lies in the overlapping layers of multi-timbred percussion instruments that are set behind a large ensemble of strings and brass and fronted by energetic vocals. Each ingredient comes together to make a spicy, polyrhythmic m'lange.
Ever since Cuban dance orchestras made mambo a global craze in the 1950s, Latin music and style has captivated the world (particularly America). But the story of salsa music is deeply connected to the story of Puerto Ricans, Cubans, and Dominicans far from their native countries. Really, it was the transplanted communities of urban Hispanics in New York City that developed the form of salsa we dance to today. In 1999, New York hosted the largest salsa festival in history at Madison Square Gardens.
Celia Cruz, Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri, and Willie Colon are a few essential artists for neophytes to check out. The new generation includes the soulful female vocalist India and heartthrob Marc Anthony. For background on New York's Latin scene just prior to the 1970s, listen to recordings of Mongo Santamaria featuring Cuban dynamo La Lupe on vocals. [show less]