Thursday, October 10, 2013

Salsa de la Bahia

A collection of SF Bay Area Salsa and Latin Jazz
 Love The Dance, Live The Music 
Hans Koert

Salsa music …… It’s a name of a music style and dance, based on Afro-Carribean rhythms, many of you will be familiar with …. In fact, the name salsa isn’t as old as you would think. Tough Mambo swept the US in the 1950w, Salsa was “invited” during the 1970s in New York, just like the bossa nova music a decade earlier,  promoted and marketed during the 1970s, as a mix of Puertorrican and Cuban popular dance styles, like the cuban Son, the guaracha, chachachá, mambo, bomba, and to a certain extent, the bolero, Wikipedia lists.  The music became popular due to Johnny Pacheco-Jerry Masucci's Fania Record label, reinvigorated Latin music in New York with a music and dance phenomenon they branded "salsa", the informative liner notes of the 2cd compilation Salsa de la Bahia album read. New York City was during the 1970s the center for this music, but also other places in the US had their own clubs and salsa-scene, like the San Francisco Bay Area, where the salsa age started at the Cesar's Latin Palace, run by Bolivian pianist and entrepreneur Cesar Ascarrunz.  
He founded his own band with great names like Roger Glenn, Joe Henderson, Luis Gasca, Julian Priester and Benny Velarde to list some. The club became a success and many people from the Bay Area and beyond, Chuy Varela says, came to Cesar's to learn to dance and enjoy salsa musicI hosted, Ascarrunz recalled a few years ago, groups like the bands of Tito Puente, Ray Barretto, Celia Cruz and many other great names ..... The capacity of the club was 500 people, but during the concerts a 1000 men were in there. The SF Bay Area salsa and latin jazz scene has been overlooked and undervalued for a long time, as a “creative hothouse for Latin Jazz and Salsa”. ..... up to now! 

Salsa de la Bahia - A Collection of SF Bay Area Salsa and Latin Jazz ( volumue 1) ( PRCD015)

Wayne Wallace
Recently a 2cd album, entitled Salsa de la Bahia, subtitled A collection of SF Bay Area Salsa and Latin Jazz has been released as a warm-up for the documentary The Last Mambo, a documentary made by filmmaker Rita Hargrave and trombonist/arranger Wayne Wallace ….  
This documentary, the idea was born when the Jelly’s was closed in 2010, a popular San Francisco salsa spot, will document the evolution of the SF Bay Area Salsa and Latin Jazz scene. I suggested we do something that documented and captured the whole scene, Wayne Wallace explains …..  It will be released spring 2014.
The bands (with the exception of John Santos and the Machete Ensemble) recorded for this 2cd anthology, are all still active, which means that the western part of the States still has a vital salsa scene. Starting in the 1990s there was salsa happening literally every day of the week in the Bay Area .... Television shows like "Dancing with the Stars" and "So You Think You Can Dance" promoted the music more as a sport, than a social activity, Chuy Valera (music director of San Francisco radio station KCSM 91.1 FM) explains .... He labels this revival as the New Millenium Salsa .... To me it is a tradition, culture and learning the language of the music. Many of these musicians, now active in the SF Bay Area, grew up with the music as children and some of us came to it later in life.  ......  ( Jesse "Chuy" Valera)   

A shot made at the official cd release

Most of the tracks have been previous released at labels like Pan Caliente Record, Machete Records, Mona Records and Rumba Jams, but three tracks, played by an all-star band Estrellas de La Bahia have been specially recorded for this album. 

Love to share with you a selection of bands that can be heard at this 2cd album: Benny Velarde y su Super Combo, an icon on timbales, who was already active in the 1960s Latin Jazz scene – Louie Romero y su Grupo Mazacote: also a veteran timbalero and the John Santos Sextet, which plays a fusion of Afro-Caribbean rhythms and Jazz ( It can be heard in Santos's  composition Café Con Leche ( = Coffee with milk).
Other names are Anthony Blea y Su Charanga – the group Avance - the Orquestra la Moderna Tradicion, an eleven-piece charanga ensemble, led by Roberto Barrell and violinist Tregat Otton - Vission LatinaEdgardo y su Candela - Jesus Diaz y su QBA - John Calloway - Orestes Vilato and the Machete Ensemble ... all bands that has earned a reputation in the SF Bay area salsa scene.
The brass section of Estrellas de la Bahia

One of the band leaders listed, Benny Velarde of the Super Combo is a legend in the West Coast salsa and jazz scene …. When West Coast vibraphone player Cal Tjader, still beloved three decades after his dead, started to play in the Dave Brubeck ensembles and with George Shearing, he became fascinated to the Afro-Cuban jazz styles due to concerts by the band of Machito and Tito Puente. Cal founded his own Afro-Cuban band and recorded mid 1950s a Fantasy album entitled Tjader plays Mambo.  His percussionist was a young Benny Velarde -  still active and present as one of the legends on this compilation 2cd album (Benny Velarde y su Super Combo)

The rhythm section of Estrellas de la Bahia

It is great to learn that the history ( the liner notes, written by Jesse "Chuy" Carela, music director of the Bay Area's leading jazz station ( KCSM FM 91) are very informative) and the music of this forgotten and overlooked period in West Coast music is recorded – Hope a lot of music lovers will find a copy of this great 2cd album.

Hans Koert
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Nowadays the popularity of salsa music as a dance seems to be rising. Born in New York in the  1970s the SF Bay Area scene seems to be overlooked and neglected for years. Next year a documentary about the US West Coast salsa scene will be released entitled The Last Mambo. 
A selection of nowadays salsa bands from the West Coast of the US has now been released on a 2cd album entitled Salsa de la Bahia, subtitled A Collection of SF Bay Salsa and Latin Jazz, featuring great names like Benny Celarde y su Super Combo, Anthony Blea y sy Charanga, John santos and the Machete Ensemble, Hesse "Chuy" Varela,  Jesus Diaz y su QBA, Edgardo y sy Candela, Orestes Vilató, The Roberto Borrell-Tregor Otten's  La Moderna Tradicón, Louie Romero y su Grupo Mazacote, Benny Velarde and some new recordings by a great all star band Estrellas de la Bahia. Love to introduce you to this great album: Salsa de la Bahia; a warm-up for the documentary to come: The Last Mambo.

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