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01/017/99

Interview with Trombonist and bandleader Jimmy Bosch.

Jimmy Bosch: Salsa's Subversive Superchef / Interview by John Child (John_Child@descarga.com)

Who do todays top salsa singers and producers call to add fiery creole flavouring to their concoctions? Jimmy Bosch, the head cook of the salsa dura or hard salsa movement and subverter of the soft salsa romántica style, that's who!

John Child caught up with trombone supremo Jimmy Bosch before his barnstorming gig at London's Jazz Café last December - the fifth date in a 16 date European tour - and was not surprised to meet a reflective artist who speaks with eloquence, passion and vision.

Currently enjoying international success with the RykoLatino release Soneando Trombón - his album debut as a bandleader - for over 20 years Jimmy Bosch has been contributing his exhilarating trombón criollo (creole trombone) sound to performances and recordings by an honour roll of salsa names. These include what he appropriately calls "the universities of Manny Oquendo and Andy González (in other words the band Libre), Ray Barretto and Cachao" as well as current UK salsa club favourites Marc Anthony, La India, Victor Manuelle and the Lebrón Brothers.

Jimmy worked as salsa romántica superstar Marc Anthony's musical director, adding the creole fire, just prior to his bandleading project. "That was a big, big responsibility. I was already working with Marc Anthony as a sideman. When I took over as musical director, Marc was already a very big figure in the business. He had already sold a large number of records and was being coined as the Puerto Rican idol, although not born there. One of the things about Marc Anthony is that he is very intense as an artist. He totally gives himself to the whole process. He commands and demands a lot of energy back. Having me in the brass section is a great thing, because that's where I live. In a place where I like space to play and express myself."

Once established as musical director, Jimmy explained how he began to harden and stretch the boundaries of Anthony's soft romantic style. "So little by little, we started to open up numbers for some riffs or moñas and for some trombone solos like in 'Nadie Como Ella' and 'Se Me Sigue Olvidando' (both tracks originally from Anthony's Grammy nominated triple platinum chart-topper Todo A Su Tiempo on Soho Latino, 1995), which the band was not doing up to that point. Partly because I was saying: 'Please let me play, you know I gotta play. You've got a bunch of great soloists in your band, let us play'. The Marc Anthony experience revolves so much round Marc that he really doesn't need it, but he enjoys it too, authentically so. That started to work and that started to click and that started to be an additional feature about the Marc Anthony experience, which became a lot of fun for me. We kind of conditioned it and shaped it into an exciting and visual experience of an intense band of cats who come hungry to play. At the same time I remained committed to my personal vision, the salsa dura movement, and was still able to show up powerfully and responsibly for Marc Anthony on all levels. So I'm very grateful to Marc Anthony for that opportunity. I'm still working with him as a sideman, I handed the musical director's job back to Angel Fernández."

Jimmy turned next to his mid-'90s stint with salsa romántica diva La India: "With India it was a similar thing. When I started working with La India it was when she was just taking off, and so I brought the element of aggressive playing in the brass section to that party also. Sergio George was still in charge and playing with the group when I was called in and he definitely utilized me in the capacity as a soloist. So I had a lot of fun and India treated me well. She acknowledged me and my experience as a trombonist in the business. That relation was good until it was no longer serving me, so to speak. So when it was time to move on I left that operation and carved my way into the Marc Anthony production."

What about his involvement with Victor Manuelle's 1996 smash hit album Victor Manuelle on Sony Tropical. "Sergio George called me and says: 'Jim I would like you to play a solo on a track.' I went to the studio. I really didn't know Victor Manuelle too well myself. Sergio said 'Let me play the track "Ahora Me Toca a Mi" for you a couple of times.' I said: 'Let me just warm-up first.' I warmed-up, I sat down and put the headphones on and I said, 'Let it roll.' He said, 'What do you mean?' I said, 'Record. Just play it and record it. Just point at me when you want me to play and do this when you want me to cut off.' And that's how it happened. I just blew a couple of solos and I was out of there in a few minutes. It was fun. I never played live with Victor Manuelle though, never to this day."

I asked Jimmy to recount the story behind the launch of his solo project at Greenwich Village's preeminent world beat club S.O.B.'s in 1996. "I had met Ana Araiz (who managed the Monday Latin nights at S.O.B.'s) several times because I had played at S.O.B.'s with various groups. In fact in some cases almost every other week, if not several weeks in a row with different bands. I got to a point where I really began to appreciate Ana's contribution to this music and business that I'm in - that I love so much. She created a format where uniqueness would occur. Even during the salsa romántica era, S.O.B.'s was the one place you could still go and catch something interesting and exciting. You got cats sitting in with bands that still played hard salsa. And interesting combinations of artists from Japan, Venezuela, wherever."

"So my vision became clear, to perform at S.O.B.'s," Jimmy continued. "I developed a relationship with Ana to the point where, one day, I looked her in the eyes and said: 'I would like you to give me a date at S.O.B.'s to perform with my group?' And she says, 'Well you don't have a band do you?' I says, 'Well, I do not.' And she says, 'Do you have music?' And I says: 'No.' And she says, 'Why on earth would I give you a date at S.O.B.'s responsibly? I manage the place.' I replied, 'If you do, I'll put a band together for you on paper in 15 minutes.' And she looked at me. I suppose she saw fire in my eyes, because she whipped out the calender and said: 'How does March the 11th sound?' I said, "That sounds great, give me a piece of paper.' I quickly went into it."

"And of that original wish list," Jimmy continued, "which I created with a secondary wish list, 80% of those cats recorded on the record and are still on this production today. And these artists which I hand picked for the production are all cats who love to play, who love to improvise, who like to experience freedom and passion in their approach to expressing themselves as artists. Playing this music which we love, bringing various elements to the party: jazz elements, salsa elements. The old school element is very present here, and an energy and a drive to create new music. And that's what we do every night we get on the stage. It's never the same as the night before or the night thereafter. That's what feeds my soul. It worked the first night. Interestingly enough, I called some of these guys, they agreed to accept my invitation to do this production. And I went to work, I started to put music together and for the first time in my life wrote songs and wrote arrangements, which I'd never done in my life, ever. I had previously scratched some stuff together, some of which I surfaced and used. And that became a vision come true for me. And today I have a record, I have a corporation set up, I have a publishing company set up, I have a lawyer in my life, I have a deal with my manager, I have an agent in Europe, which has me here today. I have an agent in New York, and that vision of mine is realising itself a day at a time. And I'm very grateful, I'm very happy. I'm fulfilling my dream of having my own production where I have more control over the kind of stuff I get to play."

" 'A day at a time', that's a slogan that can sometimes be used in another context," I commented. "My recollection of you in '92 when I met you at Manny Oquendo & Libre's London debut," I added, "is someone who was somewhat 'out-of-it'. Maybe you don't want to talk about this?" Jimmy laughed.

I went on: "I get the impression that you're a guy who has taken control of his life, who maybe had lost a bit of control at one stage." "I am, no question about it," replied Jimmy. "In fact '92 was the turning point for me. I can tell you that of August 1st of 1992, I have not had a drink, nor have I smoked anything or put anything in my nose, or anywhere else in my body that is going to hurt me or change my perception or experience of life. Today the miracle is that I have life, first of all. And that I get to experience whatever happens very authentically, naturally and very intensely. As an artist, as a father, as a son, as a brother and as a friend and as someone who is committed to making a difference in the world, some way, somehow and on some level. And for me, a big big area is through my music, through my compositions, through my approach to playing music and touching peoples lives. That's huge for me." "That's very candid of you," I remarked.

"You are supposed to have said you have become more relaxed in your playing?" I inquired. "In the last five or six years, I guess for a number of reasons, personal experiences in my life in different areas. And just where the journey of my life took me. I started to somewhat experience the horn and playing the horn more melodically. And discovering other areas of intensity without the intensity. And so I've been able to incorporate all that people used to associate Jimmy Bosch with in the first place, my aggressiveness and intensity as a player, with melodic sound. One which speaks even more or sings more: singing trombone."

"Having gone through the universities of Manny Oquendo and Andy González, Ray Barretto and Cachao and many of the great bass players of this music, elsewhere you've described yourself as a rhythmic trombonist," I commented. "No question about it, I still am," responded Jimmy. "Different from a technical approach, my approach is one of imitating either/or, and/or percussive rhythms or the lead vocalist. Trying to tell a story and using those elements to do that. And that has always worked for me. And I'm happiest doing that. That's when I feel closest spiritually to a power greater than me somehow or other. I don't how that works, it just happens man."

"Going back to your project again," I said. "How did it work? Did you finance the recording yourself or was it initially a deal with RykoLatino?" Jimmy replied: "We recorded the debut show at S.O.B.'s on cassette from the board. That was such an intense night that we used that tape to shop almost immediately to get gigs, of which we got several. And to shop with various record labels. I was already negotiating with Qbadisc. I had my lawyers looking over a contract. It was rather a small budget, but I was ready to go. I was ready to go and record the band live and do everything in one shot. Get it done; get a great record out and just move on."

"RykoLatino came into the picture through a conversation with Ana," continued Jimmy. "Turns out that they were working on a tour for Cubanismo, and Ana mentioned to Aaron Levinson that she was representing a trombonist. Aaron, who already knew my work, said: 'Please don't tell me it's Jimmy Bosch?' She says, 'As a matter of fact it is. How would you know that?' He said: 'Oh my god, don't let him sign with anyone, we're interested.' That was the first thing out of his mouth. So from my first conversation with Aaron Levinson, I was clear it was going to be RykoLatino that I was going to do the record with. Because his vision and commitment to representing the music authentically was very much on the same basis of where I'm at. And I was really not interested in allowing any record label to dictate to me how to do it, what to do. I knew exactly what I wanted to do. That worked for them, and I'm pleased so far."

"Is there another recording in the pipeline?" "Yesss," hissed Jimmy. "Yes, we should be in the studio by the end of January (1999), possibly early February at the latest. And I've already written a bunch of stuff." "And personnel-wise?" "Very much of the same. And a couple of ideas I'm tossing around by way of one or two invited guests from the jazz world that I would like to have participating in playing this music. Rather than create something more jazzy for them to play on. I'm interested in having perhaps a David Sánchez for example, to come in to bring his incredible experience as a jazz saxophonist to a típico flavour. From a marketing standpoint we are absolutely interested in doing that as well. I'm also tossing around the vocalist thing."

"Following Latin music as I do," I remarked. "I can see the connections in terms of the people who are in your band at the moment and where you have worked with them before. For example, the original line-up at S.O.B.'s had Willie Rodríguez on piano, but now you have Alfredo Valdés Jr., who's one of my idols, as is Mauricio Smith." "That came from the Cachao experience. The Libre experience was there. The Cachao. For every instrument, for every position in this band I had one, two or three cats that I know can give me what I want by way of musical experience. And it's fun. And Louie Cruz sat in the first night as well."

Jimmy was born to Puerto Rican parents on 18 October 1959 in Hoboken, New Jersey. It was a large, poor family - he was one of nine kids - so he couldn't afford to collect records and has never got into the habit. However Latin music was ever present and Jimmy grew up hearing Eddie Palmieri records, boleros by the likes of Pellín Rodríguez and Pedro Flores, old Puerto Rican jibaro music and some Cuban records. Jimmy discovered many years later that the trombonists he was listening to that influenced him the most included the revered Barry Rogers and Jose Rodrigues, the core of Eddie Palmieri's Conjunto La Perfecta. Rogers in particular helped Palmieri mould the seminal trombanga ('bones and flute) sound of La Perfecta during the early '60s.

Jimmy became a trombonist by accident. He was presented with the opportunity of learning an instrument in the fifth grade in grammar school in Hoboken. He requested a saxophone, thinking it would be cool, romantic and appealing to girls, but was offered a trombone instead. Jimmy didn't know what a trombone was, and when the music teacher first assembled the instrument for him, "The thing was bigger than I was!" However he fell in love with the trombone, and after the first couple of years of playing, Jimmy found that he could easily mimic melodies, sounds and solos.

By 13 years of age Jimmy was playing with local Latin bands, first a merengue band called Arcoires, then a salsa group named La Caliente. Bongosero Willie Moreno and his trombonist brother Nelson, who later found fame during the '80s as co-leaders of the band Los Hermanos Moreno, played together with Jimmy in La Caliente. Jimmy also perormed in La Sonica, a two trombone group from Elizabeth, New Jersey, which included two other future Libre members, sonero Herman Olivera (who sings on Soneando Trombón ) and conguero Roberto Carrero. "Along with Edwin Bonilla, who has played timbales with Gloria Estefan for some time now," pointed out Jimmy.

In 1978 Jimmy started visiting New York's Latin clubs to see bands play and began fantasising that one day he'd be up there on stage performing with them. Meanwhile, Jimmy's older sister, living in the Bronx, had been persistently boasting about Jimmy's musical prowess to her sister-in-law's husband, bandleader Dave Aleon. Dave finally relented and allowed Jimmy to attend a rehearsal of his group Conjunto Aleon. Jimmy's solos thrilled Dave so much that he invited him to join the band. Jimmy told me: "I recorded three numbers with Conjunto Aleon which were never released. I just found out recently that Dave Aleon may be putting out a record with those original tracks, with the original trombone solos, with Ray Ramos, the guy who used to sing with Saoco, doing new vocals.

At the Aleon session Jimmy met respected trombonist Eddie Hernández (aka Eddie Iglesias) and bassist Toti Negrón from Bobby Rodríguez y La Compañia. Eddie invited Jimmy to sit in and jam with La Compañia at clubs. An invitation he quickly took up.

He got into the habit of taking his trombone along to clubs, standing in front of the band and asking permission to come up on stage and take a solo. Eminent Puerto Rican trumpeter/ producer Luis "Perico" Ortiz was one of the first bandleaders to allow Jimmy to do this. After seeing Libre play a couple of times in 1978, Jimmy summoned the courage to invite himself on stage to solo with the band at the renowned Club Caborrojeño. A few weeks later he received a call to make his professional debut with Libre in Paterson, New Jersey, and thereafter he became a regular member until the late '90s. Jimmy's fist recording with Manny Oquendo & Libre, which has been compared to Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers as a school for Latin music's future luminaries, was Increible (1981) on Salsoul. This was followed by the Billboard top 10 Hot Latin LPs hit Ritmo, Sonido y Estilo (1983) on Montuno, Ahora (1994) on AMO, Mejor Que Nunca (1994) on Milestone.

Meanwhile Jimmy did a stint with the band of Puerto Rican tres guitarist Charlie Rodríguez and augmented Orquesta Novel, a swinging charanga (flute and strings band) founded in the '60s. "For about a year or so I gigged steadily with that group," Jimmy informed me. "Interestingly enough, my brother Rubén, who passed away some seven years ago, who was also a trombonist, got to play with Novel for close to a year." With Orquesta Novel Jimmy recorded A Mi Me Gustó (1981) and Prestige (1984) on Fania.

"Before La Novel I worked with Charlie Rodríguez and his band in New York for a while. I never recorded with Charlie's group, but that was a swinging and fun band. Jorge Maldonado was singing with Charlie back then as I recall. I was working with both groups at the time. I was freelancing between Charlie Rodríguez's group, Orquesta Novel, I started working with Charanga '76, sometimes with Gene Hernández y Novedades." He got the chance to record with Charlie however on Chocolate Dice (1982) on SAR by legendary Afro-Cuban trumpeter Alfredo "Chocolate" Armenteros, who guested on Soneando Trombón . The album was arranged by Jimmy's current pianist, Cuban Alfredo Valdés Jr., who was SAR's staff musical director at the time. "Charlie was a very big part of that whole SAR experience at the time. He's in Puerto Rico now. I pretty much think he retired from the record business. I would think he's playing some, but he's not active by way of a bandleader or in a band."

"And you had Jorge Maldonado as your lead vocalist on your first night at S.O.B.'s." "I pulled him out of retirement in fact. Because he hadn't sung for years. I convinced him to come out and do that show. And now he's back in the scene, he's singing with Libre some. Vocalist/ hand percussionist Marco Motroni from Orquesta Novel was on that original bill as well."

"Orquesta Novel are still gigging, but they haven't recorded for ages," I said. "I think it's very sad that there are these wonderful New York charanga bands that aren't being recorded these days." "They have recorded I believe. I believe they have a product out now." informed Jimmy. "Have they! That's fantastic," was my reply.

From the mid-'80s to the early '90s, Jimmy was a sideman with the vibrant young band of veteran conguero Ray Barretto. It was with Barretto that Jimmy made his UK debut at a memorable gig on 6 September 1987 at London's Town & Country Club (now The Forum). Jimmy clocked-up five albums with Barretto: Todo Se Vá Poder (1984), Aquí Se Puede (1987), the Grammy Award winning Celia Cruz collaboration Ritmo En El Corazón (1988), Irresistible (1989) and the Grammy nominated Soy Dichoso (1992), all for the Fania stable. I told Jimmy that my wife Helen had taken photographs of a 1986 Salsa Meets Jazz night at New York's now closed Village Gate club. Ray Barretto and Libre were on the same bill and Jimmy changed costume between the four sets to play with each band. "Those were the days," commented Jimmy.

Additionally, Jimmy played with the funky Brooklyn-based Lebrón Brothers. I raised two of their albums he sessioned on: Salsa Lebrón (1986) on Caimán, with Bobby Rodríguez guesting on flute, and El Boso (1988) on El Abuelo featuring Chocolate. "I remember doing the recordings. I never got my hands on those records. Just recently I've made it a point to build my discography, but I have omitted those. For some reason I didn't remember them. I definitely need to get those." Had Jimmy gigged with the Lebrón Brothers? "Yes sure, quite a bit. A lot of fun. You know, my whole journey as a trombonist, as a sideman, has been fortunately and honourably with the bands who have maintained a commitment, for the most part, to the kind of music I am commited to with my own production, that is the term salsa dura, which is used today."

Is he happy with the expression salsa dura? "Yeah, I'm OK with that. There's this whole issue about "Cha Cha Gabriel " (from Soneando Trombón ) being a cha cha chá. Of course, each form has its name. Salsa dura, or aggressive salsa, yeah, I totally welcome dura because it separates me and my production from all the other stuff."

I also reminded Jimmy of his work on La Exclusiva's self titled album of 1988 on Marcando including Libre colleagues Herman Olivera sharing lead vocals and Papo Vásquez on trombone. "I forgot about that band." His other '80s session work included Típica '88's It Feels So Good! (1989) on Cotona featuring lead vocalist Jorge Maldonado, Andy González and George Delgado on timbales.

We spoke about Jimmy's first opportunity to work with both Cachao and his idol, the late trombonist Barry Rogers, at a tribute to Cachao at New York's Hunter College Auditorium in November 1987. Cuban virtuoso bassist, multi-instrumentalist, arranger, composer, bandleader Israel "Cachao" López is one of the most influential of all Latin musicians, closely associated with the genesis of the mambo and a master proponent of descarga (Latin jam session). "This was my only opportunity to work with Barry Rogers," emphasised Jimmy. "And what a privilege and honour that was," he continued reverentially. "Even the rehearsal, which was probably as fun, if not more fun that the actual performance. Because we got to sit next to each other and play moñas without communicating any dialogue. Horns just went up and we got to experience each other that way. And we kinda looked at each other and laughed, you know. From my place, it was a place of honour to sit with a master whom people were often times telling me that I reminded them of. And so here I was with the man and allowing him to experience me as a player, as a trombonist, as a Puerto Rican, as a salsero, as all of the above. And I really felt a mutual respect and Barry made it a point to extend that. That was a powerful powerful time."

I asked Jimmy about Barry's passing in 1991. "He died in his sleep," replied Jimmy. "The story was that, as I recall, there was somewhat of a get together in his home if I'm not mistaken. And as Barry often did, he drove people home from this social event and apparently he returned home after dropping off some of his friends. Fell asleep and did not wake up. Much to everyone's amazement. That's as about as much as I got."

I added to the chorus of praise already heaped on Jimmy for his ecstatic solo during the number "Lindo Yambú" in the 1993 movie Cachao: Como Su Ritmo No Hay Dos , a supreme moment in this Andy García documentary about Cachao. Jimmy participated in Cachao's first major label release Master Sessions Volume 1 (1994) on Epic's Crescent Moon label (run by Gloria Estefan's husband Emilio), which won the Grammy for Best Tropical Latin Album in 1995, and the Grammy nominated follow-up Master Sessions Volume II (1995), both produced by García.

Jimmy's session work in the '90s included two hard salsa albums with veteran Dominican sonero Santiago Ceron, Mi Campeon Jukin (1994) on Leomar Racing and Cool (1996) on Exclusivo, and the Caimán All-Stars' (Las Estrellas Caimán) descarga sets Descarga In New York (1995) and Descarga del Milenio (1997) on Caimán. The Caimán All-Stars featured a number of musicians that went onto to work with Jimmy's band, including Alfredo Valdés Jr., Chocolate, Andy González and Jimmy Sabater. Jimmy was also hired to add an uncredited solo to the title track of Willie Colón and Rubén Blades' Grammy nominated reunion album Tras La Tormenta (1995) on Sony Tropical.

Speaking with Jimmy about the aborted SalsaSon Tour advertised in 1998, an eminently logical double billing of his band with the progressive Cuban-based son specialists Son 14, begged the question: "What's your view on contemporary popular Cuban music?" "I think it's quite interesting. It's aggressive by way of montunos and the whole vibe of it is rather different from what I've been exposed to all my life. As I play with records or stuff that I hear, I enjoy it very much in fact. Because being the rhythmic player I am, the way they are approaching it is challenging the rhythm and breaking the rhythmic patterns up in such a way that I fit right in. So I like it, I enjoy it very much. The other aspect of it is there is so much of it coming out now that some markets like the European market are saturated. That's what I'm hearing on this tour."

"That's what Frankie Vásquez and George Delgado (respectively Jimmy's lead vocalist and timbalero) were saying to me earlier on," I told Jimmy, "that you were seen as being so refreshing in Paris because they have had it 'up-to-here' with the songo and the timba." "And this is the commentary we are getting from promoters who have been in this business for 20 years and from dancers and from aficionados and collectors of this music," continued Jimmy. "So that's a good thing for me. There's no question that my group and this approach is appreciated and considered as not something new, but refreshing."

What did Jimmy think of the attitude of some burgeoning UK salsa dancers that you can't dance to his band and other salsa dura exponents like Libre? "Absolutely to the contrary. You will see evidence of that this evening," he retorted firmly. "The focus of my commitment," Jimmy maintained, "has always been the dancer. And from that everything evolves and revolves. The minute we start the performances it just does something to you man. You feel your hair stand up. Your body moves, your joints move, the pain goes away, and something says 'you gotta move, you gotta move.' There's solos and that jazz element there, but this is not jazz per se. People really feel it to the point that they are dancing, they are crying, they are laughing. They are (also) experiencing lyrics. It is not only about the music you know, the salsa dura movement for me is also about compositions and lyrics with meaning, something with content. A song that has something to say, that carries a message that might make a difference in someones life. And be thought provoking for people, to bring up emotions and feelings and experiences in their own personal lives to identify with. That's what my songs do. And, one of the things I tell people all the time, in my performances, is right before we start, I invite the audience to give themselves permission to experience the experience. And it's a huge thing to do. People say: 'What's the hell is he talking about?' Just allow yourself to experience the experience. If you do that, if you put your guards down, something amazing will happen. I know it will. It does all the time for me, that's how I know."

"You're preaching to the converted as far as I'm concerned," I responded. How did he feel about appearing at a jazz venue like the Jazz Café when a salsa dance hall would be just as relevant? "Absolutely," remarked Jimmy. "And a fabulous five star hotel ballroom, and a corporate party, and someone's underground basement that can hold 10,000 people and for 60,000 people in South American coliseums, and in Yankee Stadium, and the planet of Mars. The Moon and anywhere else. The music is totally appropriate and appreciable by absolutely anyone of Spanish speaking or non-Spanish speaking cultures. It's a great music." "I always tell people it's timeless. The only thing that really ages it is probably the recording quality," I said. "Very good," endorsed Jimmy.

Finally I asked Jimmy if he had any news about future projects to which he would be adding spice. "Here's what I think, John," he began emphatically, "I was called to participate on Cachao's new recording. I don't know if that's going to happen. It may or may not happen. I just played a solo on a track for a thing that Alan Geik produced in Los Angeles, which is a combination of a lot of musicians from the West Coast, East Coast, Cuban, Puerto Rican. That's an exciting project that should be out next year. I'm probably going to do another thing with the Caimán All-Stars in the next month or so." All robust sounding ventures, no salsa romántica there.

"But what I think is happening indirectly and ultimately," Jimmy continued insistently, "is that this project, because it's making a little bit of noise, because it's shown up in the charts and playlists, because it's selling some records without the major radio play, and because this band is so exciting in its approach. That when you put this band together with a salsa romántica band it just doesn't work any more. So what is happening is that all of the artists and singers that have been doing salsa romántica up to now are starting, little by little, to transform into this movement again. So what you are going to find, which is already happening, is that more and more projects and record labels are starting to enjoy this again and lean into this. And hopefully we will have an explosion of this kind of music in the very near future."

"So do I," I said optimistically. "As we've been wading through the mire of the salsa romántica thing from the mid-'80s into the '90s, I kept looking, as lots of us did, for signs that salsa dura was making a reappearance." "Here I am!" retorted Jimmy with a chuckle in his voice. "I know. You were always there and we were always checking out for you and the other guys that play this music."

So Jimmy's pretty unequivocal message seems to be that his fifth column mission as a fortifier of other peoples bland musical recipes is nearing completion. The purveyors of ironically passion-less "production line" romantic salsa are already seeing the wisdom of turning to the new edition of the salsa dura cookbook, of which he is a principal author. Despite stretching my cookery metaphor to the outer limits, I desperately want to believe he has correctly read the signs. Afterall, they do say what goes around comes around.

After his band's pounding Jazz Café performance, Helen was busy asking sonero Frankie Vásquez, percussionist George Delgado and Jimmy to autograph copies of her photos of them performing with Manny Oquendo & Libre in 1992. You see, we've both been fans of Jimmy and salsa dura for the longest time.


For more information on many of the artists mentioned in this article, check out John Child's entries in the recently published second edition of The Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music edited by Donald Clarke.
Click this link for the important Jimmy Bosch interview, "Between Gigs With Jimmy Bosch" by David Carp





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