Alberto Barros

Titan de la Salsa [Musical Productions]

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The 2006 release from Colombian salsa king Alberto Barros, Titan de la Salsa, finds the composer/trombonist continuing his mix of gentle rhythm piano, a hot brass section, and subtle percussion in eight new tracks. "Menéate," the album's opener, is a fun, catchy song, with crisp Latin beats, an electric bass, and a short trumpet break. Barros enjoys letting the individual elements of the band take the forefront, but he does this without much use of soloing (there is the occasional brass riff that takes off for a few seconds, but that's about all), instead choosing to cut out or lower certain instruments and sounds in order to let others come through. This creates a very clean, smooth feel to the music, with its strength and passion lying in its nuance rather than in its volume. Some of the songs are clearly influenced by pop (Barros has worked with Ricky Martin and Marc Anthony as well as contemporary salsa staples Tito Nieves and Obie Bermúdez), especially in the melodies, but it doesn't take away from the overall groove of the work. Anything that may have been lost vocally in the unfortunately bland "Ay Como Duele" is made up for in songs like "Como Tu No Hay Dos," where the singer sounds especially plaintive, affecting an almost flamenco-esque wail as he sings about his beloved. The songs' lyrics all deal with love and its many forms, but not always in the standard way. Most interesting are "Borrón y Cuenta Nueva," one of the slower tracks on the album, which has the singer asking for forgiveness (the title translates roughly to "let bygones be bygones"), accented by jazz-influenced trumpet solo, and "Aun Mi Corazon," which, despite the almost onomatopoeic chorus of "late, late, late por ella," comes across as sincere, and the passion which drives both the singer's heart and the band is palpable. Barros is a talented musician, and Titan de la Salsa is just more proof of that: the beat is quick and steady, the band is tight, the emotion is felt. It's a great salsa album.

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