Various Artists

Salsa X Siempre

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Salsa X Siempre is a budget-priced collection from Sony's vault featuring a stellar collection of ten tracks that provide an overview of the genre from the end of the 20th century into the 21st. While salsa's golden age was supposed to have passed, you'd be hard-pressed to find by the quality of the music presented here that it is anything but thriving. "Trás La Tormenta" by Willie Colón and Rubén Blades is one such example. The trombone-heavy architecture, intricate melodies, call-and-response choruses, and layers of percussion are nearly anthemic even with such melancholy subject matter. Another winner is the swinging "Sin Salsa No Hay Paraíso" by El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico. The modern Afro-Cuban side of the music is presented by the one and only Celia Cruz in the drum orgy that is "La Negra Tiene Tumbao," while Luis Enrique offers a breezy, jazzy, elegant Caribbean pop take with his crooning golden voice in "Tú No Le Amas, Le Temes." Check Oscar D'León's bubbling "Tranquilamente...Tranquilo," and contrast it with Jerry Rivera's 1992 hit "Amores Como el Nuestro," to hear how development and change made the music less raw, but extended its reach musically. This may not be the place to start for newcomers, but for those who have spent some time following salsa, this is a fine collection of tracks for a small price tag.

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