The music genre is renewed and other rhythms are integrated
MEXICO CITY (AP) .— Tropical music suffered heavy losses in 2021 when legends like salsa singer Johnny Pacheco and merengue player Johnny Ventura died. But one of his biggest stars, Rubén Blades, was also celebrated as Person of the Year at the Latin Grammy Awards.
Here are some of the events that marked the year for salsa and Afro-Caribbean rhythms.
Johnny Pacheco died in February at the age of 85. Fania Records co-founder – Eddie Palmieri’s bandmate and promoter of musicians like Rubén Blades, Willie Colón and Celia Cruz – died in New York after being hospitalized days earlier in an emergency of pneumonia.
Born in the Dominican Republic into a family of musicians, he learned the accordion, violin, saxophone and clarinet as an autodidact before studying drums at the renowned Juilliard Music School in New York. He composed more than 150 songs, including “La fortuna mía”, “Quitate tu pa ‘put me”, “The Pheasant” and “The King of Punctuality”, and as the musical director of Fania he was entrusted with the search for talent, composers, Arranger and producer.
One of his greatest contributions was promoting the term “salsa” for the genre that emerged from this record label, a mix of Cuban rhythms such as mambo, guaracha and chachachá, with Puerto Rican rhythms and Dominican merengue.
On the other hand, Willie Colón caused dismay in April when he revealed that he had had a serious accident with his wife Julia on a highway in North Carolina and that it would be “a long road to recovery.”
The 71-year-old Salsero suffered injuries including a crush trauma, cracked skull that required 16 clamps, and fractures of a cervical vertebra. His condition was reported as serious but stable. Julia, for her part, was released after lacerations and bruises. According to the Colón representative, no other vehicles were involved in the accident.
“Thank you for everything you have given me over the years. With God’s help, I will return. DLB (God bless you), “wrote the Bronx-born musician from New York, who is known for hits like” El gran hombre “,” Gitana “and” Idilio “.
Johnny Ventura passed away at the end of July at the age of 81. The Dominican merengue star, known as “El Caballo Mayor”, had “Patacón pisao”, “Merenguero hasta la tambora” and “Capullo y sorullo” among his hits.
As a singer, composer, band leader and arranger, he became known for revolutionizing merengue with modern lyrics and orchestrations and for popularizing the genre across America.
As the head of Johnny Ventura’s popular group Combo Show, he performed duets with Celia Cruz, Armando Manzanero, Wilfrido Vargas, Daniela Romo, Gilberto Santa Rosa and others. His extensive discography ranges from the early 1960s with albums like “El llorón” to the end of the last decade with the compilation of the hits “Más de cien, un poco de mí” from 2019.
As a recipient of a Latin Grammy, the Latin Recording Academy also awarded him the Award for Musical Excellence in 2006.
Larry Harlow died of kidney disease a month later at the age of 82. The arranger, pianist and Fania All-Star member, known as “The Wonderful Jew”, had a prolific career with 50 albums of his own and hundreds produced for others. He was also a member of the super band Fania All Star and toured with the orchestra The Latin Legends of Fania. “La Raza Latina”, “Salsa”, “Tributo a Arsenio Rodríguez” and “Fania All-Stars Live at the Cheetah” (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2) are some of his outstanding productions.
Born in Brooklyn, he attended the New York School of Music and Art and was able to play the oboe, flute, bass and of course the piano for which he was famous. He started playing jazz, but exposure to Latin American music in his youth fascinated him. On a trip to Cuba in 1957 he began two intensive years studying Afro-Cuban music. He also lived in Mexico and spoke Spanish.
The second artist to be recruited by Fania, he revolutionized salsa by developing explosive trumpet and trombone combinations that became the basic sound of the genre. He was also a member of the Recording Academy and a promoter of the first Latin categories at the Grammy Awards and the creation of the Latin Grammy.
Composer and arranger
In September, Cuban musician Adalberto Álvarez died of Covid-19 at the age of 72. The composer, arranger and conductor was one of the most important representatives of the Cuban son.
Nicknamed “Caballero del Son”, he founded the successful orchestras Son 14 and Adalberto lvarez y su Son and was active for 40 years, describing daily life in songs such as “Son de la madrugada”, “Para baile casino” and “What do you want them to give you. “
That same month, Puerto Rican musician Roberto Roena died at the age of 81 in Cali, Colombia. As a member of the Fania All-Stars and the El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico and director of the Apollo Sound Orchestra, he played hits like “My Disappointment” and “How I Make You Understandable”.
Nicknamed “El Gran Bailarín” and “El Señor Bongó”, he began performing as a bongo player for the Cortijo y su Combo group and later as one of the founders of El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico, to which he belonged from 1962 until 1969 then decided to form his own orchestra, Roberto Roena y su Apollo Sound, whose name was a nod to NASA’s Apollo 11 space mission, which launched on the same day as its first rehearsal in 1969.
With its combination of two trumpets, trombone and saxophone, Apollo Sound fused jazz with salsa, encompassing go-go and romantic music in English and Spanish. His hits included “You crazy crazy and calm me down”, “The Scapular”, “The Deaf”, “Tell My Opponent” and “Happy Tidal Wave”.
If anything, and to compensate for such a black balance, Rubén Blades was celebrated as Person of the Year by the Latin Recording Academy in late 2021 and “Caballero de la Salsa” was awarded the Award for Musical Excellence by Gilberto Santa Rosa. honored the same academy. Blades also won two Latin Grammys: Album of the Year for “Salswing!” and Best Salsa Album for “Salsa Plus!”, both with Roberto Delgado & Orquesta.
There is hope that the salsa genre will not only endure with young salsa exponents, but also with the inclusion of its irresistible rhythms in albums by urban artists like Nathy Peluso with “Puro veneno” and tributes like that of Farruko in “El misunderstood ”, a song in which he paraphrases the original subject of Ismael Rivera.
Reference from yucatan