A text from Martin Morales
What is called salsa music today is a mix of afro-carribean
rhythms like Son Montuno, Mambo, Bomba y Plena and many
Some people believe that salsa was originated from
Cuba. Others think it originated in Puerto Rico. The
reality is that the movement that originated this new
music or Salsa began in New York. There a group of young
musicians began mixing sounds and rhythms trying to
come up with a new one that would be different but at
the same time that would have the "SABOR" that the others
afro-caribbean rhythms had.
Some of these musicians include Ray Barreto, Bobby
Valentin, Hector Lavoe, Willie Colon, Richie Ray, Bobby
Cruz, Ismael Miranda, Adalberto Santiago, Pete el Conde
and many others. Of course the list would not be complete
if we don't mention the great ones like Cortijo and
of course "el negrito" Ismael Rivera.
These artists were playing the streets of New York
City long before Johnny Pacheco and Jerry Masucci created
"FANIA", the record label that brought the rhythm to
the public stream.
During the 70's Salsa music basicly exploded and got
the attention of the entire world. Now you can go to
Japan and say "Salsa" and everybody knows what you are
The music that was created during that time is what
is considered as Classic Salsa. Today salsa music keeps
going strong even with the popularity that "Merengue"
and "Latin Rock" have today.
Salsa was the result of a musical evolution of various
types of Latin rhythms. It began in New York in the
30's taking influences along the way from different
Latin music styles and afro jazz. Because of the social
and political pressures and restraints enforced in Cuba
and Puerto Rico, many people emigrated and fled into
exile to New York and various other cities of the U.S.A.
It was these Caribbeans who grew up in the Spanish
Harlem of New York that cooked up this special recipe
together with other musicians in the Caribbean. A couple
of visionaries saw the opportunity to popularize this
The orchestra leader, Johnny Pacheo, and the film director
Jerry Masucci founded a small record label called Fania
and organized a concert in the Autumn of 1973 which
was to have an incredible impact on the history of Latin
music.After several invited groups had performed,the
announcer at the Yankee Stadium in New York began running
down the list of stars which were to be named THE FANIA
This incredible line-up did not even finish their first
song before most of the 40,000 crowd launched themselves
onto the pitch to get closer to stars like Victor Paz,
Willie Colon, Ray Barreto, Bobby Valentin, Larry Harlow,
Hector Lavoe and Cheo Feliciano. The concert was stopped
and the controversy surrounding the events that occured
gave Jerry Masucci the chance to make a film to promote
The film "Salsa", edited from the film footage of the
concert and encorporating images taken from the archives
of Hollywood where famous scenes and people were shown
dancing and singing supposedly Salsa rhythms, appealed
to the American consumer society because it interpreted
salsa as another "Made in the USA" product.
'Fania' was the main contributor to the boom of what
was called the " Latin sound of New York " in which
many other already well established artists such as
Tito Puente and Celia Cruz had been part of.
Johnny Pacheco and Jerry Masucci had produced an exportable
good which toured the world creating an opening for
Latin music where ever they were. Some of the music
was original but some was stolen from Cuban artists;
something which could be done because of the blockade
From 1992 the Fania All Stars recorded various albums,
many of them from concerts in which their music was
a mixture of jazz and Afro - Caribbean rhythms, but
in 1974 Jerry Masucci wanted to create something new.
In this year they recorded the album "Latin soul rock",
a commercial project which tried to mix Latin music
and the varios other styles with the greatest international
popularity. What saved the album from being a flop was
a song by Cheo Feliciano called "El raton" or "the mouse",
the first real success of the Salsa boom.
Because of its commercial aim and financial success,
Fania was accused of being a traitor and the boom began
to die down.Fortunately this did not happen to the other
Salsa which was being produced on the caribbean streets
of New York.
Salsa has been through some years of instability. The
70's witnessed the Salsa boom but in the 80's the "romantic"
and "erotic" Salsa became popular, generally with simple
lyrics and poor orchestral arrangements.The people responsible
for this movement were Lalo Rodriguez, Eddie Santiago
and Gilberto Santa Rosa among others. The 'Salsa Romantica'
movement irratated the salseros but interested a new
audience and their records sold well accross the world.
Another phenomenon was the speedy rise in popularity
of the King of Merengue, Juan Luis Guerra, who through
his concerts and records has created great appeal among
the youth of today.
Now, in the 1990's, it can be said that music is reaching
the youth of the Americas and other countries across
the world, but only because of its diversification in
styles, from the traditional Son Cubano and Mambo of
the 30's to the New York Salsa of the 70's and 80's.
We now have "Salsa Rap", "Techno Merengue" and "Merengue