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Celebration of Salsa in Himynamistan


zzzptm
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About 40 years ago, in a little bar in Zzzptmacan called El Cheetah - don't look for it now, it's not there anymore - a group of musicians got together and started to experiment with fusing some modern jazz with dance rhythms... some horn players showed up... some percussionists got hip with the scene... some rockers turned down the volume and started playing tasty for a change... one night, a cosmic spoon stirred them all together and salsa music was born.

It was called "Our Latin Thing" at first - "Nuestra Cosa" - and it was the music of the working-class barrios where the factory workers took their wives dancing on Friday night and didn't want to stop until the sun came up Saturday morning. The catchy beats soon caught the attention of record companies and artists like Hector Lavoe, Willie Colon, and Celia Cruz found themselves pressed on wax, played in the homes of millions across the Nueva Vida scene. Rock stars like Carlos Santana picked up salsa and fused it with rock and brought new ears on over to the spicy sounds of the Zzzptmacan bars. The world learned a new style, but back home, it was still "nuestra cosa," and it always has been.

Sure, there's lots of talk of war and violence around here, but we've got to remember that there's music, dancing, and romance in the world, as well. Try a little taste of nuestra cosa and see if it opens up your world to a whole new taste in music.

If you like it, just thank Nueva Vida for bringing it to you!

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Edited by zzzptm
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All right, we got a pig in the ground and the corn roasting on the fire. We're gonna have a real cool party!

Also, we've got a brief interview with Rogelio Balderas, one of the great salsa band leaders from the old days...

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Rogelio Balderas Rappin' 'Bout the Back in the Day

Man, those were crazy times. It was like we had just figured out how to play our instruments for the first time, you know? I mean, I had already been playing in the mambo clubs around Zzzptmacan, but when I hooked up with Celia one night at El Cheetah, she said, "Hey, you try these rhythms!" Then she clapped out some beats I'd heard in the Cubano part of town. Well, I had a Cuban uncle, so I had a timbale he'd given me in my percussion kit, so I set it up, and she was all "Yeah, that's it!"

Then I said, no, that ain't all we're doing, Celia! I got my guitar player to cook up a new kind of melody and I did a little inversion with one of the rhythm patterns and we had a kooky little number going. Celia then asked, "Well, how are we gonna dance to that?"

I just told her, "Sister, that's your job. You lead, they'll follow." She started doing some new moves and we had us a new dance craze. But that's all it was.

Then one night, Willie Colon walks in with his horn to check out the new dance and he was getting into in on the floor there and I stop the band and say, "Hey, Willie, how about you lend us some brass?" He grabs his trombone and, boom, we got us a new dimension!

People asked us, "Hey, what's that thing you're doing?" Celia always said, "Esta nuestra cosa." "It's OUR thing." You know? But it was Willie that first said it was like a salsa, you know, with everyone adding something and it cooking together into a great blend. You could still pick out the flavors, but together they were out of sight.

I remember when I was playing this one night and one of my cymbals cracked. Celia said it was because it was the wrong thing, anyway. So I mounted a cowbell on top of my timbales and started beating on it like it was a two dollar mule. That cowbell was exactly what we needed and with Willie's horns, it wasn't just a dance craze. It started to be a musical movement, you know?

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