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Today's Salsa CD reviews

Orquesta Borinquen – Pa' Que Tu Lo Sepas

This latest album from Orquesta Borinquen, Pa' Que Tu Lo Sepas, delivers a salsa dancer’s dream from a traditional salsa band in 2018: nice music rooted in the salsa/mambo tradition with ever improving technical skills in both musicianship and sound recording. In other words, the band takes the best of what modernity can offer without compromising its music signature. The result is a variety of salsa (plus a bolero and cha-cha-cha/descarga) which both DJs and dance teachers can offer to both novices and experienced dancers alike. Novices will find themselves at ease with the clear beat and experienced dancers will tune into the brilliant, rich, but never overwhelming, arrangements. Indeed, the arrangements and their executions are impressive, providing the cherry on the cake of this album.

From a dancer’s perspective, the salsa on this CD come with a consistent sound married with diverse aftertastes: ‘romantica’ in ‘Ay Negra’ and ‘Ella Es’, salsa dura in ‘Americano Latino’, ‘Puerto Rican’ in ‘Yo Tengo una Cura‘ and ’Señor Maracas’ and even a feel of timba in ‘Carolina’. There is also a salsa in English on ‘Never Knew I Needed’. If the latter is not your taste, don’t turn the CD off, because a gem is to come. The final track of the CD is a fantastic bolero, as good as any bolero of the golden age, magnificently sung. All their music and more information can be found at www.orquestaborinquen.com

Well done Orquesta Borinquen!


Manolin - Jaque Mate :

As crazy as it may sound, when I think of Manolin it is Mozart who comes into my mind. There is no musical connection of course; it is just the impression of Manolin’s personality which I get from hearing his music. Nothing seems to be too serious in his songs, in which over-romantic verses always come up with a touch of irony, as if the he wanted to amaze you with poetic acrobatics rather than with the meaning of the sentence. But, everything flows very naturally, almost obviously. As with Mozart, I like to stick to the image of a Manolin who writes music and lyrics at the same time in a single spur of inspiration. Manolin’s music is often portrayed as ‘romantic timba’ as the Cuban equivalent of romantic salsa; the analogy makes sense, but I do not like it, I like to think of his timba as sweet, or cheeky.

It must be clear from all this that when I listen to this CD I tune completely into it. It is for me one of those CDs which, once it starts, you simply can not turn off. Actually the introductory song is the less impressive, at least for me; “Y Ahora Baila” was clearly designed to be a dance hit, but it is a bit too funk for my tastes and lacks the magic which flows over in the rest of the CD. “La Hiciste Buena “ and “Jaque Mate” are the other powerful and fast tracks. All other songs have a gentle swing, slow pace, and hypnotic rhythm to them; they are meant to be romantic love songs, but they fill me with the demand to dance to which you can’t say no.

Musically this is a relatively simple CD; and not by chance, since this simplicity allows you to tune in mostly on Manolin’s voice, melody and lyrics. The overall arrangements rely on the piano and the bass. The bass busies itself constantly, going much farther than the tamed role it plays in son or non-cuban salsa; it is worth to spend some time listening to it, and notice how much it adds to the syncopation and what tight connection it carries with the percussion. The piano is unusually simple for a timba CD, but famous for the nice tumbaos.. you could easily dance just to it. The brass section may be a bit disappointing, often playing a simple voice, but the entire point is not to overwhelm you, and let you tune into sweet cheeky timba. Irresistible.


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Today's Salsa DVD reviews

Seaon 'The Stylist' - Shines for Cha Cha Cha, Vol 1 (with Amanda Estilo)

Level: Beg-adv

Style: NY

Content: Shines and tyling for men and ladies.

General Comment:I can’t help being biased when it comes to Seaon’s DVDs, which I believe is most reasonable; he is one of my favourite dancers and instructors, whose DVDs I hold as among the best. The fact that this new series goes back to the roots by incorporating Amanda a peer instructor makes this even more compelling.

According to Seaon’s own words, this is a beginner’s introduction to cha cha cha for dancers already familiar with basic salsa. He and Amanda take you from the very basic steps, On2, to very popular simple shines, to less common ones, all seasoned with rich styling, body motions, hands decoration and the like. The structure of the DVD goes back to Eddie Torres’ original videos, so styling is demonstrated individually from Amanda and Seaon, who focus on lady’s and men’s styling at its very best.

The apparent simplicity of the shines explained in this DVD may be misleading; while an average dancer will probably master the footwork fairly quickly, it will take common mortals more than the allocated life time to equal the body styling, so there is plenty to learn for dancers of any level. And if the guys may find Seaon’s body expressivity a bit over the top for an average dance floor, again worry not, since most likely Nature will ensure that your body executes much narrower movements, resulting is suitably tamed versions of the same.

I like the windows containing written comments and hints on how to interpret and make the shines comes to life, which you can read while the material is demonstrated to music and will surely not annoy you as if they were spoken, should you decide to watch this DVD over and over, as I will surely do.

Reviewed by Fabio from SalsaIsGood - Good


 
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Salsa articles

On2? Which On2? I am writing this post to all experienced salsa dancers out there, and in particular to all salsa instructors. I have a question which hopefully will spark an e-mail exchange from which I may understand a few things which are unclear to me. In order to put this into context, first a few 'facts'.

Fact 1 . Roughly speaking, most people dance salsa either On1, or On2 Modern Mambo (NY style) or On2 Classic Mambo (Puerto Rican style also similar to Cuban contratiempo). Today Modern Mambo is used more frequently than Classic Mambo at congresses and salsa classes around the world.. more...

 
The Salsa 10 Commandments: 1)You shall not dance out of time, 2) You shall not refuse a dance to a less advanced dancer , 3) You shall respect other dancers on the dance floor more...

 
Creativity, Style and Salsa: How can I be creative in my dancing? How does SuperMario come up with his incredible moves? Did Eddie Torres invent NY style? What is style? Who creates a style? What does it mean to be creative anyway?

There are no objective answers to the above questions. They all, one way or the other, depend on subjective views on the artistic expression we call salsa, on what we like, and on what we intend by salsa in the first place. But we can still say reasonable things about the matter and make the creative process clearer and possibly easier. What follows are some thoughts of mine, mostly borrowed from my maths background. I am sure all this must have been said already within the art or humanistic literature, and if you are aware of work in this area please let me know, so that I can learn more.

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