Sonora Carruseles,
De Una Vez Gozando
(Discos Fuentes, 2002)

Diego Gales is the man responsible for a torrent of excellent salsa flowing out of Colombia for the last decade or so. The musical director/arranger/conguero heads up several bands, including Sonora Carruseles, who boldly -- but accurately -- titled their debut release Heavy Salsa.

On their current release, De Una Vez Gozando, Carruseles continue with their infectious blend of classic salsa and boogaloo, both of which are associated with the New York Latin music scene of the '60s. Boogaloo is soul music, Latin style, and Carruseles plays it for the dancers with no pretense of innovation or self-conscious attempt at "art."

"Para Ustedes" and "El Baile del Boogaloo" lead off the set, and really require no translation. It's for you, so loosen your backbone and let your hips make the boogaloo. "El Baile del Boogaloo" includes a searing electric guitar solo a la Carlos Santana, whose major influence, Tito Puente ("Oye Como Va"), gets a homage with a mosaico (medley) including "Sabor Gigante" and "Nina y Senora."

Four vocalists front the band, sometimes trading places as lead, sometimes splitting up for call-and-response singing. The two trumpets in this group have never sounded better; solos are crisp and often "bluesy," but Sonora Carruseles isn't striving to be a jazz ensemble.

Throughout the set, references to R&B and soul hits of the early to mid '60s abound, lending just enough familiarity to northern pop music fans who may have little exposure to salsa. While any Sonora Carruseles disc will enliven your next party, De Una Vez Gozando is probably the best one to start with.

[ by James Collins ]
Rambles: 28 September 2002

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