Gilberto Santa Rosa

Irrepetible

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Gilberto Santa Rosa made his name after salsa had outgrown its rough street origins and become a slick, lushly romantic genre. His music has changed from album to album, incorporating influences from across the spectrum of Latin music, including Latin rock and even rap, but at his core he has always been a salsero, and one with a particularly restrained, controlled style. He never erupts with wild abandon the way earlier heroes of the style (most notably Héctor Lavoe) did, and this album, which finds him approaching his 25th anniversary as a solo act, is no exception. The arrangements are highly polished, with several tracks featuring '80s-style synths alongside the blaring trombones and complex percussion that are the genre's trademarks. Some songs, like the ballad "Y Tú, y Yo" (a duet with pop singer Kany García), are too soft by half, but the thick groove of "¿Por Qué No Viene, Por Qué No Llama?" makes up for it. The band whips up a heavy, old-school Fania-style arrangement for "Me Cambiaron las Preguntas," a duet with Rubén Blades, and there's a cool Hammond organ propelling "La Ventana." This album is likely to be too polished for fans of hardcore salsa, but those who prefer the genre's romantic side will enjoy one more ultra-professional effort by one of the music's great modern talents.

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