Various Artists

La Salsa Vive

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Issued by Spanish-language media giant Univision, La Salsa Vive is an impressive collection of some of the biggest songs from some of the most famous salseros; in short, the 12 tracks on the album show off the best of what salsa has to offer. This is to be expected from Univision, as they should have the resources to get pretty much whatever they want. And with Rubén Blades, Ismael Rivera, Hector Lavoe, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Luis Enrique, Cheo Feliciano, and Willie Colón all included, they obviously did. Colón's song, "El Gran Varon," is especially good, and is the perfect example of what a salsa song needs: bright horn breaks, the necessary syncopated piano-and-drum rhythm section, nice harmonies from the backup singers, a persuasive and emotional vocalist, and good movement from beginning to end. The same descriptors, actually, could be used for the entire album. The beats are quick, the brass is clean, the vocals are expressive, and most importantly, everything is very danceable. There are few big names missing on La Salsa Vive -- Tito Puente and Frankie Ruiz, for example (though both are mentioned in the title track by Tito Nieves) -- but overall it's a good, albeit brief, introduction to the music that, while it won't surprise many aficionados, absolutely proves that salsa is very much alive.

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