As a veteran of both the vocal-driven group Bamboleo and Manuel Gonzalez Hernandez's band, expectations for Osvaldo Chacón are understandably high. Having performed alongside artists widely credited with the popularization of the timba style is an honor that comes with the price of high standards. With Chacón's 2002 release Salsa Timba, he seems to not only buck expectations, but break the stylistic mold. Perhaps it is the influence of his English surroundings, or a personal penchant for the unexpected, but whatever the cause, Salsa Timba is much more unique than its title would belie. The mixing and production defy convention, taking a pass on the "wall of sound" sensibility that is all too common from modern Cuban artists. Chacón, as the producer, places his voice front and center, leaving the horn and percussion section as accompanists, as opposed to an equal player, or a featured presence. Though the tunes are well crafted, Chacón's vocal approach is smooth to the point of sacrificing interest, skirting lounge-esque. Other interesting aesthetic choices include hip-hop, reggae, and house selections, "four on the floor" samples and all. It is in these places that Chacón's eclectic choices serve him best. Off the beaten path seems to be Chacón's native territory.
AllMusic Review by Evan C. Gutierrez
feat: Policarop "Polo" Tamayo