Latin Beat: music update.



In previous years, we've noticed that salsa alone is not cutting it at clubs for DJs and the hundreds of dancers that frequent their venues. A playlist now requires the DJ to play cumbia, bachata, merengue and some danceable pop, depending on the geographic region.

Hawaii's own Rolando Sánchez & Salsa Hawaii have been busy preparing their new CD as well as providing background music for various TV shows, both in the United States mainland and in Hawaii. The Hawaiian International Latin-Salsa Music Festival is celebrating its 18th year on September 19th, 2009 (starting at 8 P.M.) at the Aloha Tower in Downtown Honolulu, once again spearheaded by bandleader and radio host Rolando Sánchez. More information is available at (808) 342-0911.

In Canada, there is a band gaining much recognition by combining the musical influences of the Joe Cuba Sextet, Sonora Ponceña and Cal Tjader. I'm talking about The Mora Sextet, whose debut is due to hit the streets very soon.

Steve Guasch's Guaschara--a Seattle-based group--is back with another superb production (Influencias), featuring Eliel Rivero, Julio Jaúregui, Joe de Jesús, Johnny Conga, Jeremy de Jesús, Paoli Mejias, Marcial Isturiz, and many more. It's a great mix of originals, enhanced with a few covers and a tribute to Ray Barretto.

If you love rumbas, you will need to pick up Ensila Mundo's Rumberos de Hoy, which blends the Cuban rumba with other Caribbean rhythms, providing the listener a new mix of musical tradition.

While recently listening to an oldie-but-goodie by Louie López and his Orchestra, I heard a young pianist named Roberto Navarro, who went on to form Grupo Fascinación in 1982, before joining Típica 88 and producing both Charanga América and Santiago Cerón. Navarro now makes his own debut with a fantastic Latin jazz recording titled Caminando, Vol.1, consisting mostly of covers (Night In Tunisia, Watermelon Man, Campanitas de Cristal), in addition to his original title track, Caminando. The standouts are You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To, Sabroso, CT, and Caminando.

Percussionist Edgardo Cambón released his first recording (Illusions), in 1989, while still living in Uruguay, but it was never made available in the United States. He then recorded Madre Rumba, Padre Son in 2000, and is now celebrating his 20th year in the industry with Celebrando 20 Años. It includes some very tasty tunes that reflect his swinging tendencies, exemplified on El Agente 87, Tumba...

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