Tag Archives: Latin

[102] Ruben Blades and Willie Colon – Siembra

20 Mar

This disco / samba fusion album seems to capture joy in a bottle.  That the lyrics are sharp and timely social commentary is almost overkill.


The rhythm is unceasing, the horns and chants intoxicating, everything enticing the listener to move and groove.  Here is another album to which my Kindergartener can’t help but get up and dance.

During dinner.  When we want her to sit down and eat.

Everything here is slick and polished – the arrangements, the performances, the melodies which are somehow at once focused and meandering – but where this often left disco records sterile and tame, the introduction of the Latin passion and playfulness keeps Siembra fiery and fun.

Recorded in Manhattan and tapping into the 1970s New York theater scene there are unexpected, sly nods to Kurt Weil, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim here, making the whole even more irresistible to me.

But while the gentle skewering of consumerism is the thing that likely drove Siembra to become the best-selling Salsa album until the 1990s, what still shines through more than anything else is the exuberance, the sheer joy of musicians performing at the height of their craft.

I’ll be breaking this one out plenty more, especially in the hot and sticky months of the New York summer ahead.

Just not during dinner . . .

Next Week:  Blind Blake – Ragtime Guitar’s Foremost Fingerpicker

Owned before blogging? No. (10 of 102 = 10%)
Heard before blogging? No. (16 of 102 = 16%)
Recommend? Yes. (84 of 102 = 82%)

[50] Ray Barretto – Barretto Power

21 Mar

Jazz tinged Salsa, or Salsa flavored Jazz?  Either way, this recording is a passionate percussion driven soundscape.

Barretto Power

Barretto Power











The conga drums of Barretto and his three other drummers power each tune forward, enveloping and infectious, with the brass trailing along behind, spraying joy in its wake.  The syncopated complexity of each composition reveals the extraordinary level of musicianship, weaving a mesmerizing spell on the listener.

Depending on your mood, each song can be experienced as uplifting or contemplative, focusing either on the excitement of the upbeat swing or the hypnotic rhythms that underpin it.

The whole thing is *exquisite* – a strange word to describe a collection of congas perhaps, but the only one I can find that captures all the facets and intricacies of these songs.

Once again, here is a name and a sound that was missing from my musical education, which has now re-calibrated my appreciation for music as a whole.

And again I am indebted to Tom Moon and his list for providing the introduction.

Next Week: Ray Barretto – Barretto Power

Owned before blogging? No. (2 of 50. 4%)
Heard before blogging? No. (4 of 50. 8%)
Recommend? Yes. (41 of 50. 82%)


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