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Column: Editor's Picks

by Bruce Polin

With this issue comes a slew of new material as well as a plethora of reissues. Let's get into it. Brenda K. Starr, has a reputation as a vocalist in the Anglo market that has allowed her to break into salsa in a big way. Her release called Te Sigo Esperando (TL-15728.10) is getting a lot of airplay here in NY.

Charanga de La 4, the Roberto Torres produced dance band out of Miami, has a new release called Interpreta A Matamoros (TL-15735.10). Hannibal is doing good work. As a follow up to Jesus Alemañy's Cubanisimo, they have put out Alfredo Rodriguez' Cuba Linda (TL-15643.10) with Tata Güines, Carlos Del Puerto and, yes, Jesus Alemañy.

Qbadisc has added a third to their now classic Cuban Gold series. Cuban Gold 3: The 60s; El Mambo Me Priva! (TL-15847.10) has got super cool grooves by Tito Gomez, Neno Gonzalez, Pio Leyva, Abelardo Barroso and many other folks.

My favorite New York salsero, José Alberto "El Canario," has put out a long awaited new release. Back To The Mambo: Tribute To Machito (TL-15845.10). Don't expect a vintage sound to this record. This is done in El Canario's pure Cachimbo salsa style. Mr. Alberto continues to impress me with his rich mixture of sonerisimo (I think I made that word up) and contemporary feel.

Another gentleman who defies the thin romantic style and continues working in the salsa-gorda style is trumpeter Joe King. His new release, Quedate, (TL-15639.10) kicks. While I'm at it, listen to the gem Me Llamo Son, No Me Llamen Salsa (15697.10) by Super Son Banda, with Cuban vocalist Israel Kantor.

Sounds of The Street (TL-15679.10) consists of spoken-word poems done by Piri Thomas with an Afro-Cuban rhythm section backdrop. It features Patato Valdez on congas.

My release of the month goes to Las Estrellas Caiman with their smoking Descarga Del Milenio (15718.10). This is led by veteran Alfredo Valdez Jr. with Ray Barretto, Andy Gonzalez, Jimmy Bosch, Chocolate Armenteros, Eddy Zervigon, José Fajardo and many other musical giants. Get it.

Nuyorican Soul (TL-15745.10) is a new release that, although it isn't purely Latin in feel in all selections, is definitely worth getting, nonetheless— especially if you're a fan of soul. Some folks involved in this release are India, Tito Puente, and Hilton Ruiz.

Mr. Tito Puente has celebrated his long career with an impressive 3-CD release entitled 50 Years of Swing (TL-15751.10). Much of his best work is represented here with the addition of some previously unreleased material. It's smartly designed, too.

Some Latin jazz releases just released are from Hilton Ruiz: Island Eyes (TL-15661.10), Juan Pablo Torres: Pepper Trombone (TL-15738.10), and Giovanni Hidalgo: Hands of Rhythm (TL-15642.10) which is a collaborative effort with Michel Camilo.

From Cuba we have a new Panchito Alonso called Una Salsa En Paris (TL-15722.10), NG La Banda's En Directo Desde El Patio De Mi Casa (TL-15644.10) — a live party atmosphere salsa recording, Issac Delgado's new release Otra Idea (TL-15641.10), and veteran Cuban pianist Frank Emilio Flynn's Barbarisimo (TL-15681.10).

There is a terrific new 2-CD set of Ernesto Lecuona material, with Mr. Lecuona himself on piano, called Lecuona — The Ultimate Collection (TL-15690.10). There have been quite a few very good recent releases of Lecuona interpreters — but if you want to hear the man himself, with 60 songs (10 never before released) this is the collection for you.

Los Terry, also from Cuba, have released From Africa To Camaguey (TL-15676.10). This is a very well done recording combining elements of folklore, charanga and jazz. I like it a lot.

It has been quite some time since Los Papines have come out with a new release. 33 Aniversario: Encuentro De Tambores (TL-15727.10) is a folkloric guaguancó CD recorded live in Puerto Rico in 1996. Atabal from PR make a special appearance on this release. [See the photo on the back cover of this newsletter — this great shot of Los Papines came from the liner notes of this release.]

A few other folklore releases of note should be checked out. The first, a Lucumí release, is Orlando Puntilla Rios' Spirit Rhythms: Sacred Drumming and Chants From Cuba (TL-15675.10). The second is a celebration of Puerto Rico's tradition of plena and bomba. Los Plenero de la 21 with El Quinteto Criollo have released Puerto Rico Tropical (TL-15768.10).

Speaking of PR, Plena Pa' Ti (TL-15700.10) is the new release by the acclaimed dance band Plena Libre. They incorporate the plena with modern arrangements and are one of the island's gems.

We've got a large bunch of worthy reissues from the '60s and '70s — too many to talk about here. But here are a few: Fuego '77 (TL-15653.10) is an infectious salsa number. Some classics from El Maestro, Johnny Pacheco, are Sabor Tipico (TL-15743.10) and Te Invita A Bailar (TL-15725.10). They are from 1972 and 1967 respectively. Orestes Vilato's band, Los Kimbos put out The Big Kimbos with Adalberto Santiago (TL-15652.10). Tito Rodriguez' 1978 release Uptempo (TL-14388.10) is out on CD as is Yomo Toro's '82 Musica Para El Mundo Entero (TL-15723.10).

Anything Frankie Dante does is worth getting. This 1979 release is called Los Rebeldes (TL-15726.10). Gusto (TL-15724.10) was the title of this 1980 Jimmy Sabater release. Jimmy Urbina y Su Orquesta Revolucion 70 had a 1975 record called Sabor Moderno (TL-15719.10). Finally Ismael Rivera Con Kako's Lo Ultimo En La Avenida (TL-15776.10) from 1971 is now on CD.

A few videos of note are Juan Luis Guerra Y 4:40's Grandes Exitos En Video (TL-15788.30). In my opinion, Guerra's could be the finest merengue band working today. He combines diverse influences and interesting lyrics and continues to be highly danceable.

The Best of Latin Jazz (TL-15841.30) is a new video release that features the Tropijazz stable: Tito Puente, Hilton Ruiz, Eddie Palmieri, Giovanni Hidalgo, India, and Charlie Sepulveda. This is an important release in that there are so few videos featuring Latin jazz at all. Perhaps this will clear the way for more future releases.

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