"Salsa" is a term that some Cuban artists really dislike. Singer Monguito el Unico, in fact, performed a song that asked listeners to refrain from describing Afro-Cuban music as salsa and urged them to call it "Cuban music" instead. And Cubans have a saying that goes, "Salsa is what I put on my food, not what I listen to." Be that as it may, salsa is a very convenient umbrella term because it describes so many different Afro-Cuban rhythms. When you speak of salsa, you could be referring to anything from son and mambo to cha-cha, danzón, and guaguanco. And you could be referring to either charanga instrumentation (which emphasizes violins and flutes, and has a certain sweetness) or the tougher conjunto instrumentation. La Original de Manzanillo is a salsa band from Cuba that favors charanga instrumentation and is especially fond of the son rhythm. Recorded in Havana and released in U.S. in 1993, The Most: La Originalisima reminds us how appealing a genuine charanga band can be. The CD gets off to an enjoyable start with "Ensalada Cubana," a medley of famous Cuban songs that includes tidbits of such favorites as "Guantanamera," "Son de la Loma," and "Almendra." Manzanillo is equally pleasing on Ernesto Lecuona's "Como Arrullo de Palma," but most of the time, the band embraces the compositions of its lead singer Cándido Fabré. True to form, Fabré is expressive and charismatic on such originals as "Viernes Prohibido" and "El Barrendero." The Most: La Originalisima isn't groundbreaking by 1993 standards, but it never fails to be swinging and infectious.
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