Ruben Blades, Cantares Del Subdesarrollo, Ferjan, 1999

Panamanian vocalist, poet, actor, activist Ruben Blades is salsa’s renaissance man. His collaborations with trombonist Willie Colon are Fania favorites, and his own poetic and politically charged albums like Buscando America still remain classics. This Grammy award-winning album – a tribute to the late great Puerto Rican masters Ismael Rivera, Tite Curet Alonso and Ray Barretto – marked his return to straight-no-chaser salsa after he released some experimental, world music projects. It also shows that he didn’t lose a step. His clear, tenor is as strong as ever, ringing from barrio to barrio.

Listen to:

“Las Calles”

“El Tartamundo”

“El Reto”

Ruben Blades salsa album cover

Jimmy Bosch, Salsa Dura, Ryko Latino, 1999

The trombone is a foundational instrument in salsa and this Puerto Rican New Yorker knows how to make it swing in the ferocious genre known as salsa dura: a propulsive, in-your-face, anti-crossover genre that features descargas, boleros, mozambiques, plenas and guajiras. Bosch’s ode to it clearly states what its followers know – this is serious dance music.

Listen to:

“La Cacharra”

“Speak No Evil”

“Cana Mi Mozambique”

Jimmy Bosch salsa ablum

 

 

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