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Today's Salsa CD reviews

Manolin - Jaque Mate :

As crazy as it may sound, when I think of Manolin it is Mozart who comes into my mind. There is no musical connection of course; it is just the impression of Manolin’s personality which I get from hearing his music. Nothing seems to be too serious in his songs, in which over-romantic verses always come up with a touch of irony, as if the he wanted to amaze you with poetic acrobatics rather than with the meaning of the sentence. But, everything flows very naturally, almost obviously. As with Mozart, I like to stick to the image of a Manolin who writes music and lyrics at the same time in a single spur of inspiration. Manolin’s music is often portrayed as ‘romantic timba’ as the Cuban equivalent of romantic salsa; the analogy makes sense, but I do not like it, I like to think of his timba as sweet, or cheeky.

It must be clear from all this that when I listen to this CD I tune completely into it. It is for me one of those CDs which, once it starts, you simply can not turn off. Actually the introductory song is the less impressive, at least for me; “Y Ahora Baila” was clearly designed to be a dance hit, but it is a bit too funk for my tastes and lacks the magic which flows over in the rest of the CD. “La Hiciste Buena “ and “Jaque Mate” are the other powerful and fast tracks. All other songs have a gentle swing, slow pace, and hypnotic rhythm to them; they are meant to be romantic love songs, but they fill me with the demand to dance to which you can’t say no.

Musically this is a relatively simple CD; and not by chance, since this simplicity allows you to tune in mostly on Manolin’s voice, melody and lyrics. The overall arrangements rely on the piano and the bass. The bass busies itself constantly, going much farther than the tamed role it plays in son or non-cuban salsa; it is worth to spend some time listening to it, and notice how much it adds to the syncopation and what tight connection it carries with the percussion. The piano is unusually simple for a timba CD, but famous for the nice tumbaos.. you could easily dance just to it. The brass section may be a bit disappointing, often playing a simple voice, but the entire point is not to overwhelm you, and let you tune into sweet cheeky timba. Irresistible.


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Today's Salsa DVD reviews

West Coast Salsa Congress - 7th West Coast Salsa Congress 2005

Level: Beg-Adv

Style: Any

Content: Performances.

General Comment: I am not a fan of performances and I am not a fan of big congresses, but this set of DVDs is great. To me, watching the LA congress DVDs is like watching the olympic games or the soccer world cup: a display of all the stars, as well as the future ones, from everywhere around the world, giving their very best. Th ese 4 DVDs contain some 8 hours of performances and, as you can expect, plenty of variety; California is widely represented, for geographical reasons, but you will also see plenty of NY and PR, many other US cities, Italy , Spain , Japan , Korea , Singapore , Venuezuela , Mexico , Holland , Australia .. you name it.. and all age groups, from kids who will you speechless to a lady who could very well be our grandma performing acrobatics which would leave me hopelessly paraplegic.. The quality is very, very high; go and compare with the very first LA salsa congress tape, and you will realise what progress has been made in less than a decade.. Q uite astonishing; maybe in 40-50 years people will talk about this era as a remarkable blossoming of creativity and technique in L atin dancing. But to me, the best of all is to see how, even among an average of such high talent, the great still stand a span above all others, and there is no need for me to name them, as you will clearly see it yourself; a demonstration of the undefinable border between top technique and 'inner class'. If you have been to the congress you will probably have this DVD set as a souvenir, if you have not been, I suggest you buy it.

Reviewed by Fabio from SalsaIsGood - Recommended


 
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Salsa articles

On2? Which On2? I am writing this post to all experienced salsa dancers out there, and in particular to all salsa instructors. I have a question which hopefully will spark ane-mailexchange from which I may understand a few things which are unclear to me. In order to put this into context, first a few 'facts'.

Fact 1 . Roughly speaking, most people dance salsa either On1, or On2 Modern Mambo (NY style) or On2 Classic Mambo (Puerto Rican style also similar to Cuban contratiempo). Today Modern Mambo is used more frequently than Classic Mambo at congresses and salsa classes around the world.. more...

 
The Salsa 10 Commandments: 1)You shall not dance out of time, 2) You shall not refuse a dance to a less advanced dancer , 3) You shall respect other dancers on the dance floor more...

 
Creativity, Style and Salsa: How can I be creative in my dancing? How does SuperMario come up with his incredible moves? Did Eddie Torres invent NY style? What is style? Who creates a style? What does it mean to be creative anyway?

There are no objective answers to the above questions. They all, one way or the other, depend on subjective views on the artistic expression we call salsa, on what we like, and on what we intend by salsa in the first place. But we can still say reasonable things about the matter and make the creative process clearer and possibly easier. What follows are some thoughts of mine, mostly borrowed from my maths background. I am sure all this must have been said already within the art or humanistic literature, and if you are aware of work in this area please let me know, so that I can learn more.

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