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Today's Salsa CD reviews

NG la Banda - Oye Siii... :

Several years ago, browsing the net, I found out that NG la Banda had been a very influential band in the history of Cuban music, to the point of being acknowledged by some as the creator of timba. Whether this is true or not I leave to historians and musicologists to work out, but I found their drive towards musical experimentation intriguing and I decided to check them out. A few years and many CDs after, I came to the conclusion that most what I read was true. As someone who grew up with pop-rock, NG la Banda reminds to me of bands like Talking Head or King Crimson, whose desire to explore the boundaries of the musically-known brings more popularity among critics than the general public. Naturally, we all know, when you experiment you are bound to come up with crafts which are better leave in the ‘never to try again’ basket, as well as some occasional successes. This is what I feel anytime I listen to a CD from NG la Banda: they are usually a bit strange, full of very different ideas, some not fully developed, others which you can clearly recognise as having influenced a lot of contemporary Timba.

I chose to review this CD simply because it is more recent than many others, and it is a perfect example of their approach to music. Listening to it is like browsing a Sunday market, in which you find the most bizarre and diverse objects with the most confusing names: “Samba De Amalphi” is actually a bassanova, sung in Italian with a sort of Spanish accent, “Un Bolero” is truly a slow pop-ballad, “Y Si Manaña” is a salsa reprise of an old Italian pop hit, sung by the now unavoidable Haila, “My Heart Will Go On” is the bolero version of the famous Titanic soundtrack, “El Cumbanchero” is a sort of samba, “Ave Maria” is a super-romantic, tears developing (and very nice) instrumental piece, “Camaron” is a sort of tropical merengue and “Vacila Conmigo” a commercial salsa, also sung by Haila.

But if the above does not sound appealing (and it is not) , fear not, because I left the best to the end. Interspersed among such brick-a-brack are 4 gems, “Santa Palabra”, “El Abuso” , “El Papi” and “Si Yo Tuviera 20” are by themselves well worth the CD. They have it all: they are happy, catchy, danceable and cleverly arranged. It may not be music to practise with, or to play in a strictly salsa club, but I believe would make it perfect for a party, especially if you need to mix salsa and non salsa people, since you can dance to them either in casino style or freely. Give it a go. 27-8-07


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Today's Salsa DVD reviews

Eric Freeman - ¡Salsa a la Cubana! New Series

Level: Intermediate/Advanced

Style: Pure Cuban

Content: 3 Videos, demonstrational and instructional. Plenty of material.

General Comment: As the Original Series, this also includes 3 videos. Two videos contains several figures, going from intermediate difficulty to very advanced. The advanced figures involve complicated knots in typical Cuban style. All figures are shown first with music from two angles, and then slowly with vocal counting. The figures are presented by different couples, and you'll be able to enjoy several different personal styles. Some male dancers are really good, unfortunately the female dancers are not at their level. The third video is dedicated to salsa danced by more than 2 dancers (one guy with more ladies, two guys with one lady ect...), a nice novelty and a showcase of the immense creativity behind Cuban salsa. As usual with Eric, you get good value for your money.. Plenty of material to work on for months.

Reviewed by Fabio from SalsaIsGood Good

General Comment: This instructional video presents 31 advanced figures executed in Cuban style. The figures are demonstrated under quite slow Cuban son, which will allow you to pick up all the details and may be even practice while watching the instructors. The learning is also aided by vocal counting. Probably, not everyone will be able to do a full split shown by one of the instructors, but you will surely enjoy dancing these very Cuban figures. I would recommend this video for intermediate and advanced dancers.

Reviewed by Thea - 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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