If Ricky Martin is the Latin crossover star that wears tight leather and does Pepsi ads, Marc Anthony is the one wearing the black silk and smoking a cigarette. Anthony established himself in the ’90s as a contemporary Salsa superstar, and more recently, his English crossover recordings have expanded his overall audience. Universally respected for his clear and emotional singing style, he’s always brought integrity to his music whether singing a shamelessly revealing romantic ballad or cutting loose with some hot Salsa. He’s a “NuyoRican” (Puerto Rican from New York City) whose English vocals display no accent. Now visible as a film actor as well, Anthony exudes a cool downtown New York persona, and his mix of contemporary dance ballads and salsa works easily in his hands.
- Robert Leaver
Most of the rock generation is familiar with Tito Puente through Santana’s cover of “Oye Como Va” and his appearance in The Mambo Kings. By venturing closer to the source, they will discover what Latin jazz fans have known for years: Puente’s intoxicating mix of Big Band jazz and Latin music creates Mambo madness at its finest. Tito Puente is credited with fusing Cuban charangas with Big Band swing and Bop. Puente always had one eye on dance fans and indeed, his music puts the ghost of St. Vitus in your body. But his other eye was planted on jazz fans — he loved arranging for composers such as Horace Silver and his soulmate Dizzy Gillespie. There are many similarities between Puente and Diz’s various big bands — chief among them the spirit of global brotherhood that they celebrate. But Tito Puente never let his jazz side distract from his music’s mass popularity; when the Big Band era was long gone, Puente not only kept his band together but saw it thrive. With more than a hundred albums to his credit, at least one or two should be a part of every collection.
- Nick Dedina
He started out as a skinny 17-year-old from Puerto Rico on the streets of New York, hungry and ready to sing. He ended both a celebrity and a broken man, wasted by a long struggle with drug abuse, personal tragedies and AIDS. Born Hector Juan Perez in Ponce, Puerto Rico, in 1946, Lavoe pursued singing as a kid, gigging with a 10-piece band by the time he was 14 years old. Against his father’s wishes, he moved to New York, where he met Johnny Pacheco of Fania Records. Pacheco introduced Lavoe to Willie Colon, and the two recorded more than 10 groundbreaking albums over eight years. Lavoe’s erratic behavior and drug use forced Colon to dissolve the band in 1974, but Lavoe continued recording and packing stadiums in Latin America for the next decade. But he wasn’t able to kick his heroin habit and he contracted HIV as a result, and in 1987 his 17-year-old son, Hector Jr., was accidentally killed. Five years after a suicide attempt, Lavoe succumbed to AIDS in 1993. The public outpouring of grief was vast: Lavoe’s voice had been as fine as a reed pen, and his knack for phrasing incomparable. He has been called a “singer’s singer, ” but he was also known for his kindness and wit.
- Sarah Bardeen
As Salsa’s greatest icon, Cruz garnered all sorts of respect, from a Smithsonian lifetime achievement award to her own street in Miami, to the title “The Queen of Salsa.” Her singing is deep and soulful, with expressive improvisations influenced by her Cuban upbringing. You’re expected to dance to her music, with its jumping piano chords twinkling over tight conga rhythms, spicy percussion, blazing horn sections, and, atop it all, Cruz’s searing vocals. Cream-of-the-crop Afro-Cuban ensembles such as the Fania All-Stars, Willie Colon, Ray Barreto, Johnny Pacheco and Tito Puente always had to work with Cruz. Her popularity reached its peak with the movie Mambo Kings. Cruz died in 2003.
Gilberto Santa Rosa
Gilberto Santa Rosa became a salsero the old-fashioned way: he worked for it. Unlike younger crops of singers who are pretty faces first and singers second, Santa Rosa came on the scene in the 1970s. He climbed up through the ranks, putting in time with unknown orchestras and, when he was lucky, with bigger names like the Puerto Rico All-Stars, Tommy Olivencia and Willie Rosario...
Ceol na h-Alba: Music of Gaelic Scotland
On Saturday, May 20th, from 5 am to 9 am Eastern Standard Time and Sunday, May 21st, from 6 am until 1 am Eastern Standard Time, I will be doing a music program on WHRB 95.3 FM Cambridge, Massachusetts ( featuring the music of Gaelic Scotland.
Continuing on from our Celtic Music OrgyÂ® of May 2002, I now turn to the music of Scotland and the language of Scots Gaelic. Music will range from traditional songs and ballads by such artists as Mairi Smith to modern fusions of traditional songs and contemporary beats and sounds by such artists as Capercaillie, Salsa Celtica, Martyn Bennett, and Talitha MacKenzie