Percussionist Edwin Bonilla's credits list reads like a who's who in Latin music. A longtime member of the Estefan camp, a collaborator with such Latin jazz greats as Israel "Cachao" Lopez and Arturo Sandoval as well as with pop heavy hitters Ricky Martin, Jon Secada, and Quincy Jones, Bonilla has been a staple of the Miami scene for decades. A native of the heavily Cuban-populated Elizabeth, NJ, Bonilla began playing conga and bongo at a very young age. The time put in clearly paid off. There are few percussionists around today who are better traveled, more often heard, and as often called upon for their talents. On his 2002 release Soy la Candela, Bonilla takes a break from his expert rendering of other people's material, and takes the wheel as bandleader. Being a great lover of traditional Cuban music, the selections throughout are a mix of rich, swaggering son and churning, grinding mambos and salsas. Bonilla's performance is shocking. Swinging, tasteful, and incendiary, Edwin Bonilla may be the finest percussionist on the pop-salsa scene today. Check out his silky smooth, blistering hot timbale solo on "Con Tu Movimiento" before disagreeing. Surrounded by equally confident musicians, Soy la Candela is a fantastic salsa album from top to bottom.
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AllMusic Review by Evan C. Gutierrez