You hit the record shop, you find the world music section, you stand agape at the size of the Latin selection. So what do you buy? Here are 30 records to make your day.
Words: Jan Fairley
TOP TEN LATIN CLASSICS
1. Juan Luis Guerra: Bachata Rosa (Rose Bachata) (Karen Records, 261927) Thrs many- rnrllron seller from the Dominican Republic by Juan Luis Guerra and Grupo 4:40 won them fans all over the Spanish-speaking world, radically brrngrng the classrc rural genre of bachata and merengue to urban and world focus While every drsc Guerra has made has scored (I swivel between thrs and ’Arerto’, wrth the unbeatable erotrCrsm of ’Senales de humo' released on Smoke Signals), there’s not a dud track among these sensual, wrtty dance songs
2. Carlos Vives: Clasicos de la Provincia (Philips 314 518 884-2) Beg, borrow or steal a copy of thrs splendid album (plus Amor de Tierra rf poss) which saw gorgeous ex-soap opera star Carlos Vrves follow Guerra's Dominican example. He radically re- vrsrts the Colombran val/enato accordion musrc of the great popular composers wrth a group of shit-hot musrCrans whose musical rmagrnatrons and humour have ensured they continue to make waves.
3. Estrellas de Areito: Los Heroes (The Stars of Areito, The Heroes) (World Crrcurt WCD 052 -- 2 CDs) In November 1979, a once-rn-a- lifetime album, inspired by African producer Raoul Dramande, was recorded, Cuba's Egrem studios brought together a dream orchestra of 30 Outstanding musrCrans, spanning three generations from ten different bands. The quality of playrng, the rapport between thrs 'Who’s Who' of musrcrans, the amazing melodies, the rncredrble 'descarga' Jams, the contagious atmosphere of muSrcaI euphoria, the pleasure that oozes Out of pieces, some of which last over eleven minutes, makes rt exceptional. Historically it was a watershed as certain musrCrans Jumped ship to exrle abroad soon after.
4. Septeto Nacional Plus Guests: Mas Cuba Libres (Network 33182) In the 1920s thrs legendary group, led by the great Ignacio Prr‘rerro, defined the
108 THE lIST 21 50:; 5 Oct 2000
essential line-up for Cuban son. Rejuvenated by new personnel over the years, rt has never lost its glorr0usly rrch sound, wrth trngly tres gurtar, glowrng trumpet, rrch solorsts, foxy nasal choruses and mellow pace.
5. Tito Puente: Mambo Birdland (RMlvl 1578372) The late Mambo Krng, who died earlrer this summer, in a defrnrtrve Irve concert, playrng the repertory of the old Palladrum, home of mambo and much more. The man who helped fuse root Cuban son wrth Puerto chan musrc and elements of Latrn Jazz rnto New York salsa rs at the front playrng hrs trmbales on such classrcs such as ’Ran Kan Kan’, and a superb charanga versron of hrs 'Oye, como va', which Santana took around the world.
6. Afro-Cuban All Stars: A Todo Cuba Le Gusta (World Crrcurt WCD 047) Thrs Juan de Marcos Gonzalez-led album was recorded when Cooder’s abortrve Havana gurtar drsc transformed itself rnto Buena Vista Social Club. It captures the pas3ron of veterans rncludrng pianist Ruben Gonzalez and Singers Ibrahim Ferrer and Pro Leyva, suddenly back rn the studro Jamming wrth a young crowd, prror to their ’Cooderrsatron'. Fab, fab, fab.
7. Los Zafiros (The Sapphires): Bossa Cubana (World CrrCurt, WCD 056) A cult 19605 pop drsc arranged by key funky bassrst Manuel Galban: the Zafrros' close wacky harmonies over upbeat rhythms rooted rn a Jive and an early rock ’n’ roll sensrbrlrty defies popular notrons of what rs Cuban, Too hrp for therr own good, all but the legendary Galban (recently playrng VICIa Trova Santraguera) burnt out yOung.
8. Dark Latin Groove: Dark Latin Groove (Sony, CDZ 81694) DLG re-defrned Latrn dance mu5rc by weavrng rnto rap, reggae and house salsa and merengue. Fronted by the falsetto tenor vorce of Huey Dunbar, group founder Sergro George's track record as producer of many hrts for salsa bands rn the late I990s, was the key to their success. Not for the salsa purist, thrs rs certainly for those who want to access taste of a new generatron Latrno taste.
9. Grupo Niche: The 20th Anniversary (Sony DOSCIS CDA 8344) Colombran supremos whose hrgh- octane salsa frlls every dance floor wrth their irrepressible talent and energy.
10. Fruko y sus Tesos: Todos Bailan Salsa (World Musrc Network) Led by Julro Estrada ka ’Fruko', one of the most srgnrfrcant figures rn Colombran salsa, as band leader, and for brrngrng on so many other mu3rcrans, the mUSIC has a true clas5rc feel to it.
TOP TEN COMPILATIONS
1. I Love Salsa (Manteca MANTCDOO4) The embrace of thrs collectron, from the ClaSSIC salsa of the Fania All Stars to Yeska’s ska-influenced offerrng, Via the Afro-Cuban grooves of Afrrcando and the macho crrtrque of Choco Orta, ensures John Armstrong's comprlatron rs the best on the market. Tried and tested wrth my DJ hat on.
2. African Salsa (Sterns /Earthworks erw 41 CD) These classrc melodies are an astonishingly Joyful, sensual experience. Celebrating root West—African (mostly Sengelese) connections wrth Cuba, rooted in the to-and-fro of the seductive rhythms which helped slaves from various African nations resist and survrve. Remain in the dark about Afrrcando, Pape Fall and Super Cayor de Dakar no more.
3. The Story Of Cuba (Hemisphere 7243 5 24337 2 8) A cracking sequence of major, rnnovatrve Cuban musrCrans of past and present playrng the key genre the island continues to feed to the world. From root queen of c0untry, Celina Gonzalez, to NG La Banda, energy and musical ideas ooze out. Every time I DJ, I cannot res‘rst playrng Orquesta SensaCrOn de Rolando Valdes’ 'Dame un poqurto para oler'. Like so many compilations, pathetic sleeve notes though.
4. Salsa Dance Class, The Real Deal (PALIvlCD 2037-2) Veteran DJ Dave Hucker's Salsa Dance Class rs the chorce of most veteran Edinburgh Latrn DJs wrth rts back catalogue chorce of ClaSSIC cuts through
ESTRELLAS DE AREITo