“I’ve based my playlist on songs that I would generally play as part of my DJ sets. The list has a core New York influence, but with a good injection of South American artists, with a couple of modern tracks (from Susie Hansen and Paul Lopez) thrown in for good measure. I like to play Salsa that has a good level of energy, and a good groove to it, with plenty of breaks for the dancers, and have included songs from quite a few of my favourite artists, which include Angel Canales, Ray Perez, Alfredo Linares, Monguito Santamaria, and Hector Lavoe.”
Steve Bridger, aka DJ Torqueo, originally started DJ’ing House music in the early 90’s with great success, playing regularly across Europe, before moving onto DJ’ing funk, breaks and hip-hop in bars and smaller clubs. The musical journey finally ended with Salsa and Latin music a few years later, and he’s since gone on to play a variety of congresses and large events across the UK, (The Great British Salsa Experience 2009, The Mambocity 5* Congress 2008 and 2009, Scottish Salsa Congress 2009 & 2010) and abroad (Belfast Dance Asylum Salsa Festival, NYC Salsa Congress 2009).
Steve is one of the founding members of Salsa-Central.com, a global online Salsa and Latin Music and Dance Magazine, through which he regularly reviews CD’s and interviews musicians (having met and interviewed Larry Harlow, Eddie Palmieri, Chino Nunez, Tito Rodriguez Jr, and more) . He also designs Salsa-inspired t-shirts under the Salsurban brand, and co-promotes the Salsa-Central Weekend event in the UK.
We welcome DJ Torqueo to the elWatusi family of the World’s Best DJs!
From Alberto Barros’ Tributo a Salsa Colombiana sessions, which are all fabulous, this is one of my favorite tracks. Two reasons: 1. The song. La Rebellion, one of Joe Arroyo’s biggest hits, is a remarkable composition that swings super hard. 2. Diego Moran. I love this guy. Everything I’ve ever heard him do was top-notch. This guy should be a superstar.
The legendary musician and bandleader, Johnny Pacheco, co-founder of Fania Records.
Considering Johnny Pacheco’s multi-instrumental talents, energy, and the joie de vivre he projects, it’s pretty safe to assume that he’s got a lot of fans out there. What most of his fans don’t realize is how hard he’s worked to get to where he is, how well he knows the music of his own and related cultures, and how articulate he is when talking about these and other topics. One thing he never gets tired of discussing is Cuban music, of which he’s one of the biggest fans on Planet Earth. Recently Maestro Pacheco found time for a private performance in the double role of celebrity interviewee and historian. The audience consisted of David Carp and Bruce Polin. (more…)
Here’s Part 1 of a totally hilarious series of animated movies poking fun at the salsa dance instructional industry that has developed over the past decade or so. Its creator, Jake, is a lover of salsa and is himself a salsa dance instructor, albeit with a terrific self-deprecating sense of humor. Some of his jabs are so spot-on, that you just know he’s been in the biz quite a while. I have been waiting for someone to do something like this. Love it. Great work, Jake. We’ll be posting the entire series over time.
Here’s Jake’s own words about the series he’s created…
This series was created to poke a little fun at the salsa world that I’ve been a part of for many years. The issues it touches on are real, and it surprised me how many people have responded to say there is much truth in the hyperbole employed! The fact is, that the salsa scene has indeed changed a lot over the years, mainly as a result of its own success. The success has been great! It has attracted a wide group of people of all ages and backgrounds into dancing. It has made its way to mainstream TV shows. And classes popped up all over the place.
With success comes opportunity, and many teachers jumped on the bandwagon. Many tried to differentiate themselves by teaching different styles. Many figured out how to market themselves through dance troupes and congresses. And the congress people figured out how to market salsa to large groups of fans without the need for local clubs.
Like anything that is commercial, there are problems as well. In this series, I highlight some of the more extreme things that happen to newcomers on the scene. I should be perfectly clear: I LOVE SALSA DANCE AND MUSIC. I want nothing more than its continued success. But I also want the dance to continue to be widely appreciated and a great social activity (think date night). So, with all of the performing going on, and the fracturing of the scene by troupe leaders and congresses, this sometimes repels beginners who don’t want to sign up for a Ph.D. program just to go have some fun dancing! So, as always, buyer beware. Be sure you get what you want from dance, read my What We Teach discussion, learn as much as you can about the music and learn from different people to make your experience as good as it can be!
The Grammy-winning bassist Israel “Cachao” Lopez died in Coral Gables, Florida in March 2008, almost 90-years old. A maestro of legendary status on the world stage and ultimately considered one of the greatest Afro-Cuban musicians of all time, he had made his home in the United States for the past four decades. Coming from a family of classical musicians, he had formal conservatory training and held a seat in the Havana Philharmonic Orchestra for 30 years, performing under the direction of all of the legendary international conductors of the time – beginning at age 10! American Masters pays tribute to the Father of Mambo in the series’ bilingual film, Cachao: Uno Más premiering Monday, September 20, 2010 at 9 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings). The film is produced, narrated and illuminated by the actor Andy Garcia, a close friend and ardent fan, who helped re-establish Cachao’s career in the ‘90s. Among the film’s many treats is Garcia playing the bongos with Cachao.
Watch a preview: (May take a few seconds to load – be patient: It’s worth it.)
Currently in its 24th season, American Masters is a production of THIRTEEN in association with WNET.ORG – one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers.
“Cachao’s stature is peerless,” says Susan Lacy, series creator and executive producer of American Masters, a seven-time winner of the Emmy Award for Outstanding Primetime Non-Fiction Series. “There are few who have come close to his legacy. What American Masters does best is to capture an artist’s creative process. It’s extraordinary to see Cachao’s impeccable improvisations on stage and in the studio.” The heart of the film is a sold-out 2005 concert at Bimbo’s 365 Club, a famous San Francisco nightclub. Shot with nine cameras, bathed in warm lighting, with pitch-perfect sound recording and mixing, Cachao’s infectious warmth and musical genius is palpable. Woven throughout the film is Cachao reminiscing about his remarkable life over lunch with Garcia and saxophonist Ray Santos. Other voices, including Cachao’s daughter Elena, his driver, and fellow musicians such as percussionist and historian John Santos and Gloria and Emilio Estefan, shed light on his near nine-decade contribution to world music. As Garcia says, “You can put [Cachao] right next to Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus, and Charlie Parker. That’s the lexicon of the names that he’s up there with.”
“I think we would be a less rich musical country if we were not to really embrace and applaud and enjoy the music Cachao has contributed to the world and most definitely to America,” notes Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Gloria Estefan.
Cachao: Uno Más takes viewers from his start as a child prodigy in Cuba to his personal struggles in Vegas to his triumph as a world-class composer. A classical musician by day, he always had a double life at night, playing the Havana clubs and dance halls with his brother Orestes. Together, they revolutionized the heart of Cuban music – first in the late 1930s, literally inventing the mambo from the stately Cuban danzón – and later in the 1950s, at highly electric descargas cubanas – Cuban jam sessions – their spontaneous improvisations and innovations laid the groundwork for contemporary Latin jazz and salsa, rock ‘n roll and rhythm and blues. Around this time, Cachao wrote “Chanchullo” which contained the signature hook appropriated in Tito Puente’s classic hit “Oye Como Va,” later made popular in Carlos Santana’s hit crossover cover.
Cachao became an exile shortly after Fidel Castro came into power in 1962. He relocated to New York and played with leading Latin bands. As the ‘70s wore on, his life hit a sour note in Vegas, where he headlined casinos and battled his growing gambling habit.
Eventually, he settled in Miami as a forgotten artist, playing for tips at local venues. He slowly slipped into obscurity in the ‘80s until Garcia helped revive an appreciation of Cachao and his music and reinvigorated his career in the ‘90s. Their musical collaboration culminated in a series of Grammy-winning albums, cementing Cachao’s well-deserved recognition in the industry.
In his final years, Cachao received numerous honors including a Hispanic Heritage Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Award, a star on Hollywood Walk of Fame and an induction into the Smithsonian Institute. In the words of John Santos, “Underlying his consummate professional demeanor, he [was] a sage and poker-faced philosopher…warmth, humor and humility [were] his trademarks.”
American Masters’ Cachao: Uno Más, a production of DOC Film Institute of San Francisco State, is directed by Dikayl Rimmasch and produced by Andy Garcia, Tom Luddy, Stephen Ujlaki and Anay Tarnekar in association with THIRTEEN for American Masters and Latino Public Broadcasting for PBS. Susan Lacy is the series creator and executive producer of American Masters. American Masters is made possible by the support of the National Endowment for the Arts and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Additional funding for American Masters is provided by Rosalind P. Walter, The Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation, Jack Rudin, Elizabeth Rosenthal in memory of Rolf W. Rosenthal, The André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation, Michael & Helen Schaffer Foundation, and public television viewers.
We are delighted to include the Casabe catalog from Puerto Rico. Dedicated exclusively to the music of Puerto Rico, this record label’s main purpose to “preserve, nurture, and document the music expressions of our people.” Founded by the renowned Puerto Rican musician, William Cepeda, Casabe Records has the goal of “cultivating and taking care of our traditions, so that the Puerto Rican music continues to evolve, and it is recognized and enjoyed internationally.” William Cepeda has put a lot of interest, musical experience, academic knowledge and artistic vision in this project, with the purpose of “helping our people feel proud of its heritage and its music. We want to conquer our people with music.” – William Cepeda
Casabe currently represents works by Cepeda’s own folkloric and jazz groups, as well as respected bomba y plena practitioners Hermanos Ayala, Don Félix Aduén, Grupo Esencia and others. Click for the Casabe catalog of titles.
Accomplished musician, composer and trombonist, William Cepeda hails from Loiza, a town on the is|and’s east coast known as the “capital of tradition” where the Afro-Puerto-Rican bomba, derived from the music and dances ot Africa, has been passed on from generation to generation and is still alive today. Cepeda grew up dancing and playing bomba in his hometown, an experience that provided him with a firm musical foundation. Building on this legacy, he has sought to channel these indigenous expressions into contemporary musical forms including classical music as well as jazz. His formal musical training includes a BA from the Berklee College of Music in Boston and from the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico. He has also received a Master’s degree from the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College. His numerous awards for composition and performance are from Meet The Composer, American Composers Forum and American Composers Orchestra. As an educator, he has been on the faculty at Brooklyn Conservatory of Music and a composer-in-residence at the University of Puerto Rico and the Conservatory of Puerto Rico. ln 2002, William Cepeda received a Meet the Composer New Residencies Award to be resident composer in Puerto Rico for three years. During his residency, he worked with the Conservatory of Music in Puerto Rico, Agua, Sol y Sereno and the Department of Education, to create new works that celebrate local culture and community. As performer/trombonist, he has played and recorded with such jazz greats as Slide Hampton, Dizzy Gillespie, Paquito D’Rivera, Tito Puente, Miriam Makeba and Eddie Palmieri.
Cepeda is the force behind Casabe Records, a label dedicated exclusively to the music of Puerto Rico.
Poor sound, poor picture, but HOLY SH#T! What an AMAZINGLY RARE piece of salsa history! If you have ever had the luck to see something like this in a club, consider yourself one of the chosen people! This little jam, folks, was sent directly from the Salsa Gods. WOW.
I came across this horrifically fantastic sculpture of the Fab 4 (minus 1 …but notice John’s glasses on the table) and had to find out who did it. Turns out, it’s the handiwork of pop culture artist David O’Keefe. His cool website is part gallery/part online store where he sells his sculpture and amazing prints (see Desi and Lucy below). Well worth a look.
In 2007, David left his day job to pursue his passion of painting and sculpting pop culture icons. O’Keefe’s work is transformative, capturing not just the likeness of his subjects, but their personalities as well. He has recently released an epic depiction of the characters from The Godfather and of the entire I Love Lucy cast. His company, David O’Keefe Studios, distributes his work through galleries across the country.
Below is a cross section of some of my other favs (Elton John, Simon + Garfunkel, Bill Murray, David Letterman, Bill Clinton (and friends), and the cast of I Love Lucy. – elW
Percussionist, composer, arranger, and band leader Joel “Pibo” Marquez was born in Caracas June 22, 1966. At an early age, he began exploring music with the support of his family. He began his musical studies of the cuatro, and other string instruments in Venezuelan roots music, and began participating in different folklore groups at just 8 years of age. He continued his formation at the popular school Cristo Rey, in the district 23 de Enero, at Caracas where he refined his skill and education of Latin American percussion and its origins. His studies soon extended to other countries in Latin America, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Ecuador, Colombia, Peru and Surinam, having the support of an important cultural organization in Venezuela. In 1980, he had the opportunity to put into practice what he learned from these experiences, linking them with different groups of Venezuelan folklore through 1984, when Grupo Madera summoned him. This group of international recognition helped him to show his excellent musical capacity and his extensive knowledge of the percussion. After separating from this group, Marquez began to explore other musical styles like salsa, Latin jazz as well as contemporary music for ballet and theatre. He then moved to Colombia, where he resided for six years. There, in 1998, he was hired as a sideman for Alfredo de la Fe’s orchestra. Soon afterwards, famous guitarist Carlos Santana commissioned him to write some songs to tour with him – a great honor for Marquez, who considers Santana to be one of his personal heroes. In the beginning of 1998, Pibo Marquez was offered the chance to produce the first recording under his name. The album bears the name Joel Pibo Marquez, Con Las Manos Calientes. He shared this production with musicians from different origins, in particular with Cuban bass player Diego Valdez. This album shows Marquez’ increasing musical maturity by revealing a great variety of percussive colors. Pibo Márquez discography