Inspired by Gilberto Santa Rosa, Puerto Rican salsa singer Victor Manuelle follows his own course with the release of his 16th studio album, Que Suenen Los Tambores. It is an extraordinary sharp record, arguably one if not the best release in his musical career so far. Three singles have been released ahead of the album launch, of which the title-song had set the highest anticipation.
Victor Manuelle (El Sonero de la Juventud) is known for his salsa romantica, but Que Suenen Los Tambores has a lot of variety in terms of salsa styles and rhythms. Not a single song is inferior to the others. From the vallenato accordion in the intro of Agua Bendita, the salsa dura of Sal A Bailar, the classic salsa composition Isabela, to the breezy and romantic composition of La Vida Perfection, this is a very vibrant album that must be part of your latin CD collection.
The second edition of the Pal Mundo Festival in the Netherlands has confirmed its ambition towards a leading European Caribbean and Latin festival. Even though Marc Anthony was simply removed from the show bill after headlining for about 5 months (he supposedly postponed his European tour) and also one of his replacements (Carlos Vives) didn’t come to the festival, the remaining line-up still matched every other.
Although Krosfyah has not released any music for more than a decade, the soca group from Barbados easily managed to set the crowd on fire on the first night. It was a shame they only played half of their biggest hit Pump Me Up though. They were followed by reggaeton gangster Tego Calderon (Puerto Rico), whose show was very decent, despite the sometimes static performance and occasional playbacking. The night was well ended by veteran Juan Luis Guerra who never seems to have any problems getting a good live sound, despite the poor acoustics at the concert hall.
On day two a big mistake was made by unleashing Kassav + Friends way too early and way too short. Half of the people must have missed the zouk legends and featuring artists such as Jean-Marc Ferdinand, Zouk Machine and Princess Lover. I managed to listen to the majority of the show on the radio while driving to the event. The consecutive artists on the main stage were Yandel, from the reggaeton duo Wisin Y Yandel, and Romeo Santos, who closed the festival with the same show as last year.
Altogether both the festival and its venue have surely exceeded the previous edition. A lot of attention is given to fancy promotion graphics, photos, videos and special effects. This is a big asset. Next year it would be nice to hear some salsa as well.
Following an extensive social media campaign Juan Luis Guerra has launched his twelfth studio album, Todo Tiene Su Hora. Together with his band 4.40 the 57-year-old Dominican superstar has recorded 10 songs with a total playing time of only 30 minutes. Nonetheless, the album is a rich supplement to his discography. Personally I find it better than his previous album Colección Cristiana that was released 2 years ago and was filled with a couple of old songs.
The opening song of the cd is Cookies & Cream, a little cheesy merengue. It is followed by Tus Besos, a more carefully composed bachata which is also the album’s lead single. Canto A Colombia praises the country and people of Colombia and is an original blend of salsa and cumbia. The title song Todo Tiene Su Hora is a merengue and did also appeare prior to the album. It is followed by Dime Nora Mia, a typical Juan Luis Guerra salsa composition and melody. Para Que Sepas sounds very much like a Cuban bolero, especially because the beautiful hobo lines. Another merengue, and probably the most annoying song of the album because of its silly melody is El Capitán. Muchachita Linda is a quiet and careful bachata and is followed by a fast salsa song, Todo Pasa. One can sense salsa is not Juan Luis Guerra’s domestic style, but there is no disputing about his songwriter qualities. The last song of the album is joined by fellow countryman Johnny Ventura and is a real merengue party!
The only song that has a videoclip is Tus Besos. The clip is in fact a little musical orchestrated by Juan Luis Guerra’s son who gave the clip a fifties theme.
Juan Luis Guerra has just completed a small Latin American tour together with Marc Anthony (Gigante2) and some shows also with Carlos Vives (Gigant3s). I don’t think he will build a tour around his new studio album (he hasn’t done so for his previous album either), but it would be exciting to hear some of his new material live on stage!
Many music collectors and enthusiasts like myself don’t easily get excited about a CD with various artists. Quite often those records are a compilation of two hit songs supplemented with disappointing songs that are literally cheap because little or no compensation is required by the original record labels. How different is the Mais Kozomba Hits 2 compilation, that was released last month. Almost all songs are outstanding, which makes it one of the best buys to introduce oneself in the kizomba genre.
It is obvious to point out the biggest kizomba hit on the album, the song Jajão by the Angolan artists Master Jake and Eddy Flow, an instant hit on the kizomba dance floors.
With the increasing significance of the music genre and expanding popularity of the dance style, it is interesting to see how the music adapts to a more urban character, while drawing inspiration from zouk, heavy (house) beats, R&B and indigenous (African) music. The two songs below are good examples of this phenomenom.
The CD offers a great section through kizomba in the Lusophone African countries, Brasil and Portugal. Only those who favor French kizomba should look for another compilation, for Mais Kizomba is focusing on Portuguese music.
It is time for me to nominate a song for this year’s summer hit. Gente De Zona and Descemer Bueno have written and recorded the song earlier this year in Cuba, but it was only after their collaboration with Spanish singer-songwriter Enrique Iglesias when the song rocketed into a commercial success. Bailando has all the ingredients to become a summer smash, such as a swinging beat, Spanish guitar, catchy melody and lyrics full of mentions of party, dancing and sex.
Different versions of the song have been released, but I would like to share the ‘Spanglish’ version featuring Sean Paul. The video was filmed in Santa Domingo and lives up to the song’s name with a convincing choreography of sensual flamenco girls, street dancers and soccer.
Belgium is a country of high quality festivals, and the 16th anniversary of Afro-Latino Festival in Bree was no exception. Since the last couple of years, the line-up competes with the festival’s big brother, the Antilliaanse Feesten. This year’s edition featured Daddy Yankee, Busy Signal, Farruko, DLG, Kes the Band, Fonseca, Vena (ex-Aventura) and Orquesta SCC (La Excelencia).
Deep down the festival is more Latin and Caribbean than African. That’s okay, considering the fact that contemporary African artists are difficult to book without a network, especially compared to their South American counterparts. And a bit less reliable too.
The festival terrain had 3 stages and a 4th stage for DJ’s and dancing salsa. That’s a lot of space for only 7000 visitors. What striked me was the young crowd with many local people and families. This had an up side and a down side to it. Good was the laid back atmosphere at the festival terrain and the fact that one could easily obtain a front row seat. But, most guests didn’t seem to know any of the songs that were played and the night sometimes lacked the intensity of a real Latin party.
That could also be said from the campsite. Only one booming sound system, not much of drinking rum and no barbecues allowed, but a friendly vibe. In Bree they don’t have the commercial mentality of bigger festivals, no fights, no queuing in front of the shower and no tall security checks.
In conclusion the festival is highly recommended for next year, but unfortunately the organization is having financial problems due to a negative balance twice in a row.
The legendary CD/DVD that captured the live concert of 10 salsa giants on the 31st of August in 2012 at the Curaçao North Sea Jazz Festival has a little follow up after the release of an EP featuring 5 more songs.
Disappointing about the songs again, is the fact that most live performances sound a little bit like studio recordings. On the other hand, this is more than compensated by the band, adapting to the signature style of each singer. The three extra live songs that have been selected for this EP are brought by Oscar d’Leon (Llolaras), Andy Montañez (Un Verano En Nueva York) and Luis Enrique (Tu No Le Amas Le Temes). Yet again, it is the studio song that thrives the compilation to higher heights. This new release is called Bajo La Tormenta.
In the collage of voices Ismael Miranda and La India (yes she should have been there in Curaçao as well) have been added to the all-star line-up. They join the joyful video together with José ‘El Canario’ Alberto, Willy Chirino, Oscar D’León, Andy Montañez and Tito Nieves. Sadly, this has also been the last recording of Cheo Feliciano.
La Voz De La Ternura (The Voice Of Tenderness), better known as Zacarias Ferreira, is helping the bachata genre picking up steam with his latest album release Mi Gusta Todo De Ti. If you would leave out the urban bachateros, Zacarias is one of the most meritorious bachata singers of this time, broadcasting Dominican music like no other. With his distinctive and slightly hoarse voice Zacarias Ferreira remains consistent in the quality of his songs. For those who like to stick to the original sound of bachata, this album is a must have.
The first song of the album, Si Pudiera, is immediately affirming the quality of the production, with the typical build up of a bachata song. Two other delightful songs are Ahora Sé Que Me Quieres and Mirando Las Estrellas. The surprise of the album would be the last song, Mi Compañera. Perhaps unintentionally, this uplifting merengue song is likely to be the biggest hit of the album.
Latin Grammy Award winner and Puerto Rican salsa giant José Luis Feliciano Vega, better known as Cheo Feliciano, has died in a car crash on the island. He was one of the pioneers of salsa music and member of the Joe Cuba Sextet before he joined the legendary Fania All Stars. Among his most famous bolero and salsa songs are El Raton, Busca Lo Tuyo, Nabori and Anacaona.
Caribbean Latin festival Pal Mundo in the Netherlands has launched itself by booking both El Rey del Reggaeton (Don Omar) and The King of Bachata (Romeo Santos). While Don Omar just didn´t show up because of a conflict with his tour manager, Romeo Santos gave a big show that saved the festival.
Nonetheless it were the artists on the two secondary stages that compensated for the numerous rookie mistakes of the festival and the poor shows by Elvis Crespo, Jowell & Randy and Tony Dize on the main stage. It was a shame the crowd preferred to stay in the large indoor stage which had the best atmosphere, disregarding artists like Luis Miguel del Amargue, Alison Hinds and Carimi.
I am very curious to see how this festival develops itself in the coming years. They should realize that the soul of a festival can not solely be generated by big artists that attract a more main stream audience. Yet it is Romeo’s powerful performance that combats this thesis.