01 Jan 1970 |

Alex Gutierrez

Salsa …..Que Paso?

Salsa …..Que Paso?

What happened?Que Paso? The music spoke to us , made us happy, sad , made us dance. No subject was Taboo: Religion,Politics,Race ,Drugs It erased generational lines at house parties all over Miami during the 70s. The music was raw and aggressive, it assaulted your senses and did not give up until you surrendered to it’s rhythms.The term ” Salsa” which means ” Sauce” describes the mixture of styles such as Cuban Son ,Puerto Rican Bomba and Plena with additional elements derived from American influences such as Funk, Rock, Jazz and even some Disco later in late 70s. As a teenager whose nightlife was limited to ” Qiunces” and ” Open Houses” here in Miami my first exposure to this style were local bands such as Carlos Oliva y Los Sobrinos del Juez, Conjunto Impacto,Conjunto Universal , Tipica Tropical and others , whose LPs were neatly stacked on our parent’s large console stereo’s with strict instructions to never touch them. Of course as an aspiring young DJ I would sneak them into my room and study their covers and songs. ” Que Se Sepa” ( 1973) was my introduction to Latin Music in Miami, produced locally by Conjunto Universal, it was a staple of every social gathering where Cubans were present. The Percussion and Horns were front and center on this energetic track which my parents and neighbors would absolutely go crazy for upon listening to the first few piano notes. And so began my appreciation for Tropical Latin Music which I would incorporate into my DJ sets as a young mobile DJ at parties. My collection swelled when I was introduce to the ” Nuyorican” style or the ” Salsa Dura” from artists such as Celia Cruz, Ruben Blades,Johnny Pacheco (the creator of the Fania All-Stars), Ray Barretto, Willie Colón, Larry Harlow, Roberto Roena, Bobby Valentín, Eddie Palmieri, and Héctor Lavoe to name a few.
Then came the 80s ,Salsa changed from it’s hard , aggressive style to a softer gentler form known as ” Salsa Romantica” or it’s street name ” Salsa Monga” it was a hybrid of sorts using themes usually associated with Ballads with a smoother tropical arrangement . I was still on board as my nightclub audiences were eating the stuff up. Lalo Rodriguez’s ” Devorame Otra Vez” can be considered the Salsa Romantica Anthem in my opinion . Radio stations jumped on this genre with artists such as David Pabon, Eddie Santiago, Luis Enrique,Tony Vega,Rey de La Paz , Tito Rojas , Gilberto Santa Rosa and others. Commercially they were portrayed on their record covers as “ladies men” with scantly clad women with ” poofy” 80s hair.The target audience was definitely women. The dancing style became more subdued , the fashion much more elegant and dress up as opposed to the looser fitting clothes of the 70s that allowed more freedom for semi-acrobatic dance movements . Then slowly as Salsa’s original audience began to age and new styles started creeping their way on to radio targeting a younger demographic, Salsa began morphing and trying to compete for young ears. The birth of Salsa-Pop with groups such as Salsa kids ” La Magia de tus 15 anos” Servando y Florentino “Un fan Enamorado” and of course Marc Anthony with ” Hasta Que te Conoci” The face of Salsa , the image had become as important as the music . An album Cover with an albino artist such as Cano Estremera could never sell as many records as a teen hearthrob like Jerry Rivera. Many great vocalists were being overlooked by local record labels who were looking for pretty boys. One consistent and reliable artist who was successful in blending the hard ” Dura” side of Salsa with it’s romantic successor was Puerto Rican artist Frankie Ruiz who achieved legendary status after his death on August 9, 1998, at the age of 40, a month after his final concert at Madison Square Garden.

DJ JAVIER produces a weekly SalsaProgram t from Puerto Rico SALSA DE LA MATA (En Vivo cada dos Miercoles de 7 a 10 pm desde Octava 94.3FM Stereo en Santa Juanita, Bayamon, Puerto Rico. Nuestro Intersitio: ) ” One of the things that almost killed Salsa during the 80’s and 90’s was the way big record labels managed it’s promotion. Salsa and other genres were turned to a plain and soulless product, not as a musical expression. big managers took control over everything; in order to make “more with less” they turned it in a generic brand with a specific structure and no space to be creative. Once they realized how bad things turned out, most classical catalogs were sold for peanuts. Same happened with Radio Stations; most of their owners were communicators and music enthusiasts. Now they are just business people who their only passion is its profits. Today, most bands release their recordings by their own with limited resources. There’s a lot of good Salsa being released every day but you have to dig to find it; specialized websites and internet radio broadcasts are a good resource to start.”
Today the only SALSA artist that enjoys a life on Radio is Marc Anthony ,his tracks go straight from the studio to the airwaves. Every large Metropolitan city with a large Caribbean Hispanic population boast hundreds of local Salsa artists ,all struggle to get their music played on air most do not achieve this goal. Locally we have a treasure trove of Tropical talent such as Lucy Grau, Marlon Mendioroza, Conjunto Progreso, Leslie Cartaya, Melina Almodovar, Marlow Rosado, Tony Succar , Palo, Conjunto Impacto, and of course The grandaddy of our musical city Carlos Oliva y los Sobrinos del Juez still cranking them out almost 50 years later. Why has Salsa slipped through the cracks? A sampling of our local Radio Top 20 lists shows only one Salsa entry, Marc Anthony. Why bury the genre that put us on the map? With so many new national groups such as the Spanish Harlem Orchestra, Tabaco y Ron, Papo ,Ortega y Cubanoson and others it’s not like the style is lacking product. We must find a way to pour a little ” Salsa” over the musical meal that is being served to the Bachata , Reggeaton consuming youth of today.
DJ Alex Gutierrez

DJ ALEX GUTIERREZ will be spinning all your classic Salsa favorites Sunday December 6 at Club Havana Calle Ocho Early 4 PM CLICK HERE


December 1st, 2015

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