Ten Salsa artists to see live before you (or they) die
October 26, 2013
By Michael Collazo
Salsa is rich with great artists and live performers. This is Dahday’s humble list of performers we think are worth the price admission to see live. For those of us with great interest in NJ & NYC latin music events, this list will help in your next nightlife event selection.
At number ten…(drumroll)…
#10- Grupo Niche – The Colombian powerhouse started recording in 1978 and has remained popular throughout Latin America, with its cumbia-tinged hooks, dance hits like “Etnia” and romantic songs like “Gota De Lluvia.” Buy tickets to see them in December at NJPAC here: http://www.dahday.com/event/salsapalooza/
#9- Willie Colón- This Bronx-born trombonist became a household name teaming with the late Hector Lavoe for a slew of salsa albums in the 1970s. He is just as likely to perform at a gala or political fundraiser as a concert venue, so keep an eye out for that fancy invitation in your inbox.
#8- Oscar D’Leon- Formerly the lead singer of pop Venezuelan band, “Dimensión Latina,” his signature dance moves and vocals not only set off fans in Cuba and Caracas, but in New York City as well. He is part of the slate of Salsa Vive at MSG Nov. 15.
# 7 Fania All-Stars- This band changed rosters quite a bit but it was a superstar line up from Jerry Masucci and Johnny Pacheco’s famed record label – the Motown of salsa music. So once a year or so, the living members like Colon, Ismael Miranda, and Bobbi Valentin take to a stage, including this past October 18 at Coliseo in San Juan.
#6- Tipica ’73 – Sonny Bravo and Johnny Rodriguez co-founded this group and its charanga-tinged sound. Its music got better as the 70s got older. More recently a version of the band with Bravo and Rodriguez leading the way has played SOBs and an outdoor festival here and there. Check them out.
#5- Sonora Poncena– Quique Lucca and his son, Papo still lead the tightest, trumpet-based salsa ever recorded. More likely to see them in PR than in the US, catch them when they play here. I saw them at the old Copacabana (when on the west side). It was a great night!
#4- Ruben Blades –The conscience of the genre, he catapulted the genre to an international level. His Siembra album is like salsa’s answer to Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On? He is now back on tour, playing in NYC this November among other recent gigs, including the Salsa Vive show at MSG next weekend.
#3- Irakere – Cuba’s super band of the 1970s may not technically be considered salsa, but it was arguably the greatest Latin music band ever assembled. If any version of this ensemble tours, buy tickets immediately! And I will meet you there.
#2- Eddie Palmieri- A total living legend, Palmieri has the mantle Tito Puente had before he died. Eddie is the elder statesman of New York salsa tradition. Still gigging in his 70s, make it a point to see his great band and music live, particularly his big band ensemble.
#1- Cheo Feliciano – The great crooner of salsa’ golden era, Feliciano is a dynamic and stylish singer with a great capacity as a sonero and as a bolero singer. Sadly, he recently announced he has been stricken with cancer. If – and sadly, it’s only an if – he graces a stage to perform, it will needless to say be a must-see performance. Cue up Canta…
*A note: we did not include El Gran Combo simply because really, who hasn’t seen them at this point? I have seen them like seven or eight times, a few times without trying (gotta love free concerts in the neighborhood). Also, we did not include more recent stars of the genre like Marc Anthony or Gilberto Santa Rosa because they still gig pretty frequently and presumably have more time on their side. For these artists, there may be a little more sense of urgency.