The term salsa africana broadly refers to Latin inspired music performed by African musicians and Latin-based collaborations between African and Latin musicians. John Child’s playlist includes a wide range of salsa africana tracks recorded over the last 50 years that have been featured on the UK radio show Aracataca, which currently airs on the worldwide web from totallyradio.com. Featured are salsa africana pioneers like Le Grand Kallé and his African Team (featuring Cuban flutist Gonzalo Fernández), Laba Sosseh, Dexter Johnson (with the International Band and Monte Adentro), Amadou Balake and Gnonnas Pedro (both singing with Africando) through to modern proponents like Kékélé and Oumou Dioubaté. Click for John’s Salsa Africana Playlist
Puerto Rican-born and New York raised singer / songwriter Ismael Miranda was one of the most popular soneros of the ’70s salsa boom. In his mid-teens he organized Pipo y su Combo with pianist Mark "Markolino" Dimond. Both he and Dimond also performed with a sextet led by reeds and vibes player Andy Harlow, playing opposite his older brother Larry Harlow and legends like Cal Tjader and Tito Rodríguez. Ismael made his recording debut with Joey Pastrana on Let’s Ball (Cotique, 1967), performing on the hit track "Rumbón Melón". Larry recruited Ismael to replace the troublesome Monguito "El Unico" as the lead singer of his Orchestra Harlow in July 1967, and over the next five years the two artists developed a highly creative and successful partnership. Ismael made seven albums with Orchestra Harlow during this period, contributing a number of co-written (with Harlow) and self-penned hits. Tiring of uncertainties and instability in Orchestra Harlow, Miranda split in 1972 taking three of Harlow’s sidemen with him to his own newly formed Orquesta Revelación. Their 1973 Fania Así Se Compone Un Son became a big hit and attained classic status. However, after about a year, the band fell apart due to internal wrangles, with only two original members remaining. Miranda relocated to Puerto Rico, where he continued to pursue a successful solo career up to the present day. discography
Okay, off topic. But, wtf. I’ve always loved Frank, and good music is good music, period.
Here I offer two videos. The first piece, Watermelon in Easter Hay, just might be one of the most elegant, eloquent, and gut-wrenching pieces of music ever penned, imho. Just gorgeous.
The second piece, the crowd-pleasing Muffin Man, also with a great solo, is thrown in for nostalgia’s sake. I was at that show in NYC, 1977. What an amazing night. If you were lucky enough to have seen Zappa live you know just how exciting and full of anticipation it was when Frank put down the mike and walked over to his Gibson SG. You just knew something amazing was about to happen. We miss you, FZ.
Zappa-philes out there should see offspring Dweezil’s traveling show Zappa Plays Zappa.
Please don’t write me to say, hey, this ain’t no salsa. I am aware. But I am the Grand Wazoo in these parts, and am allowed to take a few liberties now and then.
Angles Canales is one of the pioneers of salsa dura. The inheritor of Mark "Markolino" Dimond’s hard driving group Sabor, Canales augmented the original horn section of two trombones and trumpet with saxophone and flute for his first solo album, 1975’s Sabor on Alegre Records, to shape the ensemble into an uncompromisingly hard-edged, jazz-oriented dance music machine. Four original Sabor members, trombonists Ricardo "Richie" Montañez and John "Fudgy" Torres (who also assumed the mantle of musical director), conguero Antonio Tapia and bongo player Louie Rivera remained with the group for this album and continued to be core members of Angel’s band into the ’80s. Following two albums for the TR label, including 1978’s smoking Live At Roseland, Angel launched his own Selanac label (Canales backwards) with El Sentimiento Del Latino en Nueva York (1979), both featuring the African American pianist Lesette Wilson. His second Selanac album El Diferente is one of his strongest, kicking off with a powerful version of the classic "Bomba Carambomba", associated with the Puerto Rican music legends Ismael Rivera and Rafael Cortijo. (Rivera was one of Angel’s early influences.) In addition to two more albums on Selanac, Different Shades Of Thought (1982) and Ya Es Tiempo (It’s Time) (1985), he made the live recording El Diferente en ‘Vivo’ Desde el Poliedro (1982) at Poliedro Stadium in Caracas, issued on the Venezuelan GM label (Greatest Hits Live ‘91 on TTH reissued five of the Poliedro tracks plus a another number recorded at the venue). Gigs ebbed away as he resisted the insipid salsa romántica trend of the late ’80s; and he disbanded in 1990. He briefly resumed recording and touring in the ’90s; two tracks made in Colombia were included on the 1995 compilation De Colombia Pa’l Mundo Entero Vol. 3 on MCR. discography
- John Child
Born in Antalya/Turkiye, Deejay Orhun is passionate about his music. He’s now living, performing, and diffusing Salsa and Afro-Latin rhythms in Istanbul, a city which is in between Europe and Asia. He is a Dj, dancer, architect and a pro photographer. His passion for dancing and collecting Salsa/Latin music started when he was 20, and specializes in records from 60’s 70’s through today, especially Venezuelan, Panamanian and Peruvian: Salsa Dura. “Collecting was a passion, so why not play it?” He explains why he got into this music: “There was no salsa, before revolution. My philosophy is to offer that unique feeling that every song has, and reveal (it); it is a culture from the streets, and it’s important to understand its roots.”
We are very happy to have Orhun join the elWatusi growing family of DJs. Click for Deejay Orhun’s Playlist
Netherlands-based Juan Vlieg was born on the island of Curaçao, in the Dutch Caribbean. In 1996, Juan started DJ-ing salsa parties. A few months later he became the resident DJ for one of the biggest salsa organizations in the country, and in the summer of 2000 he began playing at the biggest and most prestigious salsa dancing event in the world; The Congreso Bacardi de la Salsa in San Juan, Puerto Rico. A few months later he joined the Bacardi World Salsa Tour. Since early 2004, Juan has been a freelance DJ and has played at nearly all of the important parties in the Netherlands. During his career he has shared the stage with artists like Gilberto Santa Rosa, Victor Manuelle, El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico, Manolito y su Trabuco and many others. Over the years he has developed a style that caters to the salsa lover with highly danceable classic salsa. We are delighted to have Juan join the elWatusi growing family of DJs. Click for DJ Juan Vlieg’s Playlist
Happy Father’s Day to all of you current and future dads. Here’s a short Dad-Dedicated Playlist, a nice mix of salsa, danzon, soul, jazz, cumbia and timba. A little bit of everything, ’cause your dad’s a complex guy. Enjoy – elW Go to playlist
I listen to a *lot* of music here in the elWatusi laboratory, and I often stumble upon little nuggets of gold. Here’s a recent batch of tracks I like, and you might too. It’s culled from the deep, mysterioso, 4th dimension of sound, which is a place where the rules get all stretchy and bendy. – elW Go to playlist
We are delighted to include the Walboomers catalog from the Netherlands. Marc Walboomers is known for his keen aesthetic when it comes to salsa and Latin jazz. We’ve just incorporated the titles, which include great material from percussionist, Gerardo Rosales, timba from La Tremenda, Clave Sonera, Marco Toro y Su Ensamble, Franciso Peña, Charanga La Crisis, Alberto Caicedo and more. Walboomer’s latest release is this terrific compilation of salsa Venezolana…
Venezuela Salsa World Series
Editor’s Pick: “A long time ago I had the dream to put together a compilation like this. It is not a secret that Venezuela is the country with the highest salsa production in terms of the quality of the music. We can safely say, without exaggeration, that, in Venezuela, good musicians abound. Based on this, and witnessing its development, in my position as a music broadcaster, I dared to gather some of the best ensembles of the underground salsa circuit in this country …and here they are Abriendo Caminos! Some of the great tunes included in this selection were never published in one album, making this compilation invaluable.”
- Paz y Amor El Chino (Calí, Colombia) more…
I’ve been listening to this very hip Latin jazz number with deep swing. The UK’s Snowboy has been around the block, so to speak, and he’s picked up a few tricks along the way. The first track, a first rate mambo, was written especially for him by none other than maestro Eddie Palmieri. ‘Nuff said… - elW