Salsa Pulse Magazine

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MUSIC

By

Stefan Vale

Ladies & Gentleman, introducing:

“El Canario” Anticipation fills the room as the lights begin to dim.
The band starts to play an enticing prelude as the announcer introduces a man who needs no introduction to Salsa fans around the world, as he personifies style and rhythm, and truly embodies the passion of Salsa music. “Senoras y Senores put your hands together for, Jose Alberto, El Canario”! On Friday October 10th 2003, Jose Alberto and his phenomenal eight-piece band delivered a most memorable performance at Salsa Lovers dance studios to an adoring crowd of Salsa dance and music enthusiasts from all over South Florida. Known for his electric rhythm and energetic performances, Jose Alberto truly delivered a night of Salsa music, which those fortunately enough to have been present to witness, will not soon forget. Playing such unforgettable songs as: bailemos otra vez, a la hora que llame voy, disculpeme senora, quien como tu, ya no quiero tu querer, and his latest hit quiero salsa. Demonstrating masterful vocal interpretation, timing and stage presence, Jose Alberto captures his audience, drawing each and every audience member into his spell-binding groove, as he interacts with his crowd like each and every person present is a personal friend of his and an intrinsic part of the show itself. During the second set, he demonstrated his versatility as a musician by participating in an impromptu conga duet with his conga player and he continued to demonstrate his command of the music by instructing his band to speed up and slow down on his mark, as he danced in perfect tempo with the alluring rhythm. Emphasizing his technical expertise, he performed his trademark whistle solo, which showed the crowd how he had earned the nickname ‘El Canario’ (Spanish for Canary). The highlight of the evening was when an audience member was summoned to the front of the stage by what seemed to be a spiritual vortex. Seizing upon the musical trance that she was under, Jose Alberto called her up on stage to sing and dance with her to the delight of the crowd. Jose Alberto ‘El Canario’ truly impressed me as one of the most talented Salsa artist in the business today. When contacted after the show for an interview, he was humble and unassuming. Q: Your latest hit quiero salsa has received a great deal of airplay here in Miami especially within the Salsa dance community. When you first recorded it, did you know it was going to be such a big hit in the nightclubs? A: Well yes, it’s very danceable and talks about what people want to do. You know, ritmo para los bailadores. I knew it would do well here, and New York and Puerto Rico . Q: What message did you want to send your fans with your latest album (entitled Diferente)? A: Oh, it’s beautiful. The very best album I’ve ever produced. It’s todo para los bailadores around the world.

44 Oct 2003 / Salsa Pulse Magazine

Q: You have collaborated with several of Salsa music’s most accomplished artists in the past (such as the late-great Celia Cruz, Oscar DeLeon and many others), who have you not worked with yet, that you would like to work with on future projects together? A: (Laughing) Well, a lot of them. Andy Montanez, Gilberto Santa Rosa. I’ve been with them together on stage, but we’ve never recorded together. I’d like to work with a lot of other Salseros. Q: Many Latin artists have made successful cross-overs to American Pop music (such as Marc Anthony, Ricky Martin, Gloria Estefan, etc). Do you have any aspirations of doing the same? A: Well yes, but I’m not really that interested because we have such a beautiful language, music and people. We don’t really need to cross-over, because our music is so beautiful and so great that …you know, we have our own thing. Q: Salsa music is known for incorporating diverse musical influences into its compositions. Where do you see the next evolution of Salsa music going? A: I think it will continue to grow like it has been. I love seeing young people dancing Salsa and new Salsa artists coming out in the business. That is the future of the music. But the new Salsa artists need to learn about the great old Salseros who started it all. You know, to get to the bottom of it. Just like Jazz. If you want to learn about Jazz, you have to listen to those cats who started it all. A lot of young Salsa artists are coming out today and they’re very good but if you ask them: “do you know about the great old Salseros who started it all”? They don’t know who they are. So they have to learn about our roots first. Q: Over the years Salsa music has experienced ups to downs in popularity but has endured thanks in part to talented artists such as yourself and a loyal following of fans worldwide. Conversely, certain other Latin music styles (such as Merengue and even the ‘Macarena’) have inspired temporary dance crazes throughout the country to English speaking audiences but haven’t endured. If Salsa music is to receive mainstream popularity across the country, and continue to thrive, what in your opinion, needs to happen to ensure its continued success? A: Well, it already has died a couple of times. And it’s been all over the world. But Salsa needs more promotion and more exposure. And record companies need to be more interested in promoting it. And new Salsa artists need to focus on the roots of Salsa music, too. Q: How did a Dominican end up playing Salsa music instead of Merengue or Bachata? A: (Laughing) Ask Johnny Pacheco! I was born in Santo Domingo and my parents and I moved to Puerto Rico when I was young and then we ended up in New York, were I learned about Salsa music. When I first started playing music, it was as a drummer in an American Soul band. Then I stated listening to the 70’s Salsa music like the Fania All Stars and I fell in love with it. I’ve played other types of Latin music, too, like Merengue and Bachata. But Salsa is what everyone knows me for. Q: What advice would you give young aspiring Salsa musicians trying to break into the music business today? A: Study your stuff. You know, just do your homework. Learn from the pioneers of Salsa and do what you like to do. Q: Any final messages to your fans and what can we expect from you next? A: In January my new album will be coming out and on May 29th, I’ll be celebrating my 25th anniversary as a singer at the Tito Puente theatre in Puerto Rico.

45 Oct 2003 / Salsa Pulse Magazine