Welcome to summer, dancers! It is time to dance outdoors, wearing shorts and sandals, to take advantage of the warm, long days of the season. And there is equally hot, new music to dance to! Below you’ll find the best of what hit our desk this month. Also, at the end of our list you’ll find a song that we hope you’ll stop to consider. It is a brand new release by Luis Enrique, in reaction to the violent political situation that is currently facing his country.
Pedro Bermudez – ARRASANDO
Let’s start our list with one of the best albums we’ve heard this year. ARRASANDO [Sweeping] gathers some of the best musicians and singers out there to create a work truly worth listening to. It is the inspiration of Puerto Rican pianist and arranger Pedro Bermudez, whom, along with his musician friends from both the island and New York, such as Bobby Valentin, Eddie Montalvo, Ralph Irizarry, Jose Mangual, Frankie Vasquez, Reynaldo Jorge, Julito Alvarado, and Eliut Cintron, has gifted us with music definitely worth dancing to. The album has 11 songs, 6 of them Bermudez’s originals. Two of the numbers are Latin Jazz instrumentals. You must listen to every one of these cuts and pick your favorite, but we will say that we are absolutely in love with “Reunion,” a song in the voice of Pedro Brull, in which the brass instruments simply shine. This album deserves to be purchased. Find it on Amazon.com.
Salsakommúnan – ROK I KEYKJAVIK
When you hear people say that Salsa is old and there’s nothing new, stop them on their tracks, because there’s new Salsa coming even out of Iceland! ROK I KEYKJAVIK (Winds over Keykjavik) is here to prove it, with original songs and Icelandic lyrics. This album was completely recorded in Iceland. Our favorite is “Duldyradans” (The dance of the secret animals), which is a cha-cha with an amazing trombone by Jon Amar Einarsson and with Porgrimur Porsteinsson playing the tres. We are also pretty sure that you’re going to love “Mangó fyrir tíu flær “ on the dance floor. The full album is available on Spotify.
Michael Stuart – “Yo soy Nueva York”
You probably know Michael Stuart already. After all, he’s had 20 years of musical career. Now he’s back with a new sound in “Yo soy Nueva York” [I am New York], a song that talks about the place where Stuart was born, “the jungle of concrete,” as he calls it, and although in the United States, steeped in the culture and music of Puerto Rico. The video is enjoyable, with a cameo by one of our favorite singers, Frankie Vasquez. You can purchase the song on Amazon.com.
Septeto Trio Los Dos – “Sueño de Amor”
“Sueño de Amor” [Dream of Love] is a Changui (traditional Cuban genre) modernized with the inclusion of a saxophone baritone, a trombone, and a trumpet. It is the work of the Septeto Trio Los Dos, from Holland, and it is a taste of their upcoming album. The group was founded by composer, singer, and guitarist Jan Albert Nebbeling and tres player Fulco van Deventer. They are well known for interpreting this type of Cuban music, from the eastern part of the island, which they have performed multiple times in Cuba. Listen to the full song here, and then purchase it on Amazon.com.
Bomba y Plena
Plena Libre – AMORES EN EL CAMINO
Plena Libre is no newcomer. The band was founded in 1994 by bassist, composer, and arranger Gary Núñez, and so far, it counts with 17 albums. AMORES EN EL CAMINO [Love on the Way] is the latest, recorded in Gaynabo, Puerto Rico. It talks about the different types of love that you find as you walk through life… love for your country, your family, nature, students, musicians, and so forth. This is an energetic album that you can listen and purchase on Amazon.com.
Lirow – “Amante Perfecto”
Dominican singer and songwriter Lirow presents “Amante Perfecto” [Perfect lover], a bachata of his penmanship that is sprinkled with touches of pop. “Even though I don’t have the profile of your perfect lover, it’s obvious that you like me, in the way you look and talk to me,” goes the catchy song. Listen to it on YouTube.com.
El Conjunto Nueva Ola – “E Deposito”
El Conjunto Nueva Ola (ECNO) is one that is hard to miss. They wear extravagant costumes and personalized Mexican wrestling masks on stage to remain anonymous, and they offer gimmicky high-energy shows that have gain them a cult following. ECNO has been quite popular lately in Los Angeles, recently performing for the closing gala of LALIFF, one of the largest Latino film festivals in the U.S. Originally from Mexico City, the group consists of leader and vocalist Urbano López, Luzio Nava on guitar, Primitivo Ríos on bass, Hipólito Madero on percussion, Tacho Vasquez on timbales, and El Raio Manzares on keyboard. (Ooops, so much for anonymity!) “El Deposito” [The deposit] is a cumbia with Peruvian Huayno influences (Wayñu in Quechua is a genre of popular Andean music and dance originally from the Andes highlands). It is interesting, fresh, and wants to make you move. Listen to the song on YouTube.com.
Los Angeles Azules – ESTO SI ES CUMBIA
Last month we told you about a single out of this album, but now the complete work has been released. If you like cumbia, you’re going to love it. Los Angeles Azules are interpreting classic Latin songs with cumbia rhythms added to them; songs by well-known artists such as Pepe Aguilar, Miguel Bose, Yuri, Gloria Trevi, Fito Paez, and more. Our favorite: “Morir de Amor,” which we remember from the time it was presented by Bose as a romantic ballad decades ago; is here turned into something we can dance to! Los Angeles Azules is a group on the rise. This year they became the first of the genre to participate at Coachella, and last year they had a spectacular show at the Hollywood Bowl sharing the stage with the LA Phil. You need to keep your eye on this group. Listen and purchase this music on Amazon.com.
Fleo Korozeef and Shaka y Dres – “Venga”
Fleo Korozeef, from Belgium, and Shaka y Dres, from El Salvador, joined forces to present “Venga” [Come] which fuses hip hop, reggae, French rap, and Salvadorian cumbia, to create a catchy tune that makes the body move. The video was recorded in Playas del Carmen, Mexico, showing both Europeans and Latin Americans enjoying the gorgeous beaches. We like it!
Natti Natasha and Silvestre Dangond – “Justicia”
This is an interesting song that fuses Urban sounds with vallenato. The lyrics were written by both of the singers in collaboration with Daddy Yankee. This is a brand new release (June 29), and a video, recorded in Medellin, Colombia, is upcoming. Listen and purchase it on Amazon.com.
A song for the socially conscious
Luis Enrique – “Mordaza”
Beyond its rhythm, and whether you can dance to it or not, we wanted to bring to your attention this song, released just yesterday (June 29), by Nicaragua born singer Luis Enrique. It is entitled “Mordaza,” which translates as “gag,” the name of a piece of cloth that is put over a person’s mouth to stop him/her from speaking out. It is Luis Enrique’s reaction to the socio-political upheaval that is ongoing in Nicaragua. “My country is living an unjustified war; genocide against the citizens just because they want to peacefully protest against the government,” said Luis Enrique, “but starting last April 19, Nicaragua is a different country. The people, and the students, have lost their fear, and even without arms, they are fighting against the repression and the injustice imposed by Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo. “Mordaza” is what my people yell about on the streets all over my country. For those courageous people is this song with all my love.” “Mordaza” also features Nicaraguan rapper Erick Nicoya. Ten percent of the sales of this song will be donated to organizations helping the situation in Nicaragua, but most importantly, it wants to create conscience and to alert people everywhere about what is happening in this small country in Central America. You can listen and purchase the song on Amazon.com. “Are we human? Or are we dancer?” That famous line of The Killers’ song comes to mind right now. We are both, right?
We hope that you enjoyed our list of new releases. There is much more music than those same 20 songs you keep on hearing in the clubs. New work comes out every month, and maybe you could even suggest a song or two to your local favorite DJ. And now, we look forward to bringing you more at the end of July.
Also, we hope that you took the time to listen to Luis Enrique’s song. “Stop a moment, cease your work, look around you,” said Leo Tolstoy once. Awareness is important.