“Contigo No” – Wayne Gorbea y su Conjunto Salsa

This is a very nice, in-the-pocket tune from groove master Wayne Gorbea. Many of Wayne’s songs are overplayed on the salsa circuit but this is not one of them. It features swinging bone riffs and Johnny Polanco on Tres! (Check out his interview in this issue). From the album “La Salsa y Charanga” on Disco.

“Mima la Pululera” – Pedro Conga Orq. Feat Tito Rojas

This is early Pedro Conga (circa early1974) featuring a very young Tito Rojas on vocals (apparently his recording debut). Sadly the CD version is now out of print. If you see it buy it. The whole thing is jamming salsa dura with rough trombones and up front percussion. This is a great dance tune. From the album ‘Mima la Pululera’ on Mavi.

“Salsa con Candela” – Miguel Yamba

This one fantastic and obscure dance tune. When I went to the NY Congress in 2000 I heard it a couple of times and thought, “What the F is that tune?”. I haven’t heard it since but it is one cool tune with a clear clave, guitars , and a laid back, African swing. It took me about a year to figure out what is was and to hunt down the CD. From the album “Karamba” on LusAFrica.

“Cuban Fantasy” – Estrellas Caiman

Just go out and get all the Estrellas Caiman (now called Cobo All Stars) albums. They’re all top notch salsa mambo jazz from NYC. This, for me, is the best version of this famous tune for dancing (originally written by jazz pianist Ray Bryant and made famous by Machito’s monster band in the 1950s). Check out the line up on this record (Ray B on conga, Andy G on bass, Jimmy Bosch on trombone, Fajardo on the flute, etc. etc.) Perfect groove and sweet flute and alto solos! Vaya! From the album ‘Descarga del Milenio’ on Cobo.

“La Receta” – Johnny Polanco y Su Conjunto Amistad

This is from Mr. Polanco’s first album and is one of his most jamming tunes. To get the full experience you must see him and his band live but this is pretty strong stuff nonetheless. The man plays trombone, vibes, tres, and arranges (and smartly features some of the best vocalists in the business). What can you say about that? Nothing; just go see him live and buy the CDs!!!! From the album, “LA Amistad”.

“Remordimiento” – Charlie Palmieri

Eddie’s older brother was one bad ass piano player. His music always has flavor, swing, and an elegance that is missing from most salsa music. I recommend all of his albums. This is a cooking mid tempo dance tune from a great album with yet another all star band. It features the great Menique on vocals. From the album “Con Salsa y Sabor” on Cotique.

“Como Lo Canto Yo” – Justo Betancourt or Spanish Harlem Orchestra

I mention both versions because they both cook and are worth getting your hands on. The Justo version is a bit more raw and a bit faster in tempo. The SHO version features Ruben Blades on vocals sounding at the top of his game. So clear and fluid. A joy to hear (hey Ruben how about a dura solo record!!!). Both are great dance tunes that typify 1970 take no prisoners salsa pa’ bailar! From the albums “Across 110th st” on Libertad and “Lo Sabemos” on Fania.