The Spanish Harlem Orchestra
Un Gran Dia en el Barrio
Now, when one has been a music writer for awhile, s/he can’t help but become a bit cynical about the hype labels try throwing their way. The propaganda machines spew all kinds of b.s., comparing their unknown acts to every musical deity known in the cosmos only to have that act sound more like snake droppings than siren songs. So, when Ropeadope dropped the line “Harlem’s answer to Cuba’s Buena Vista Social Club,” I had to scoff.
While definitely more akin to the Afro Cuban All-Stars, the label was not lying. Directed by Oscar Hernandez and manned with some serious heavy hitters like Ray Vega, the Spanish Harlem Orchestra is a raging powerhouse of salsa music. While there’s definitely a place (not in my collection) for your Ricky Martins and Marc Anthonys (I refuse J. Lo), this is the stuff that prompted my crowding my collection with Latin music. Armed with claves more powerful than the bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima combined, this amazing ensemble explodes out of your speakers like an untamed tsunami. The horns blare, the percussion pops, piano pirouettes, and you’ll find yourself dancing everywhere the music finds you.
This is an amazing album that pays homage to the Machitos, Puentes, Perez Prados, and Willie Colons who made the music what it is today while joyously celebrating all the music was, is, and forever will be.
Ropeadope Records: http://www.ropeadope.com