These flashy Salsa orchestras pack a lot of guys onto the stage — timbaleros, congueros, bongoceros, huge horn sections, piano players, drummers, bass & guitar players, and of course, los soneros (the singers) — to animate Salsa dancers and impress music fans everywhere they go. Live Salsa is like nothing else!
When you listen to one of these groups (live or recorded), you hear the African rhythmic foundation, then the son montuno loop played on the piano, the call & response singing, the virtuoso bass & guitarists, and the hard-hitting horns — all moving in perfect circles together — just like the dancers in front of them.
Read this article to introduce yourself to some of the most exciting musicians in the world. Get into many of today’s top Salsa bands. Hear the latest Salsa songs, and several from the past 2-3 years. Watch videos of these breath-taking performers stimulate crowds & put forth so much heart & soul into the music.
Check out one of the most intriguing Latin music projects on the planet — The Pedrito Martinez Group. See a teaser for their terrific 2016 record, Habana Dreams…
Electrifying, Stirring Salsa Songs
Salsa In New York City
Young Latin musicians in New York continue to play Salsa with style & verve, giving the genre an infusion of youthful energy — staying true to Salsa’s roots while they update the music and do their own Latin thing.
Next up is Orquesta SCC, New York’s hottest Salsa big band. They take Salsa back to the more eclectic days when the music was first coming together as Salsa. When it was down & dirty high-energy street music. They also tell stories about what’s going on in the community, just like those original Fania songs did. Listen to them jam on “A Mi Estilo.”
Los Hacheros are another potent New York Salsa band on Chulo Records, like Melaza. Here, check out the powerful, “Descarga Para Abe,” from their outstanding 2016 album, Bambulaye. Read about their influences and hear the roots of Salsa in this article.
Chulo Records (a partnership with the great Daptone Records) cuts their albums direct to analog tape to get that visceral 1970s Salsa feeling, and capture the energy of the live performance. They also boast Latin Funk powerhouse, Peliroja. Check ’em out!
Salsa Down Under
Quarter Street revisits an era where the music of the streets resonated with the voice of the people, and at the same time creates fresh music. Doing it in Australia is no small feat either, but this band is so tight, and their music so powerful, that Australians can’t sit still. Listen to Quarter Street’s scorching Salsa brava tune, “Fantasia” here.
Another talented, modern Salsa band of Latinos living in Melbourne is San Lazaro. Listen to “Dilo” in this playlist. This song cooks and the band is electrifying! Hear more from San Lazaro on their 2016 album, La Despedida, from Hope Street Recordings. Thankfully, it’s not goodbye, and I look forward to more new Hard Salsa from these guys “down under”.
Watch the excellent video for “Amor De Despedida”…
Salsa Colombiana Actual
Here you’ll find, La-33, a Salsa big band from Bogotá. Their song, “Cosa Buena” is a good thing indeed, and lends us the name of this Spotify playlist.
Launching Percussion Bombs From Puerto Rico
Watch them record “Somos la Plena”…
Young & Old Salsa Generations Collaborating
Following that, hear how Great Dominican salsero, José Alberto El Canario, teamed up with El Septeto Santiaguero, natives of Santiago de Cuba to make a superb 2015 record, No Quiero Llanto – Tributo a Los Compadres, full of collaborations between young & old Salsa musicians exploring the Cuban roots of Salsa and mixing it all together in one big melting pot. Listen to “El Lunar” in this Spotify playlist because it’s a feel-good Cuban Son track where you’ll hear why they call him “El Canario”.
Salsa en España
Watch Tromboranga recording, live in the studio, their lively song — “Ah Caraj (Aquí que pasó)”…
Salsa Con Vibes
Listen to Venezuelan vibraphone virtuoso, Alfredo Naranjo’s 2016 Salsa song, “Tu”, celebrating la Salsa Caraqueña…
A Vital Latin Music Project
Martinez performed as vocalist and percussionist with Cuban legends before settling in New York City in the fall of 1998. Pedrito has recorded or performed with Wynton Marsalis, Paul Simon, Eddie Palmieri, Paquito D’Rivera, Bruce Springsteen and Sting and has contributed to well over 75 albums.
A consummate master of Afro-Cuban folkloric music and the batá drum, he is also the music world’s first-call rumbero — playing, singing, and dancing with dozens of groups and contributing to or appearing in several important films.
Mr. Martinez was a founding member of the highly successful, Afro-Cuban/Afro-Beat band, Yerba Buena, with which he recorded two albums and toured the world.
His career as a leader, began in 2005 with the formation in NYC of the The Pedrito Martinez Group. They recorded their second album, Habana Dreams, largely in Cuba in October 2015. Featuring superstars like — Ruben Blades, Isaac Delgado, Wynton Marsalis, Descemer Bueno, Roman Diaz, Angelique Kidjo, and Telmary Diaz — it is a beautiful record, uplifting, alluring, exotic, and full of spine-tingling percussion jams.
This album isn’t primarily Salsa. It’s special because of the way it explores the spiritual Jazz & Yoruba influences on Salsa…while always breaking new musical ground and never sounding cliche or derivative. In this Spotify playlist, listen to “Antadilla,” a gorgeous collaboration with Wynton Marsalis on trumpet, and the distinctive vocals of Salsa singer Rubén Blades.
Even Japanese Salsa!
Sexy singer, Amy Akaoka, handles Salsa vocals as if she were born & raised in Caracas. Listen to her sing perfectly in Spanish on “Tal Vez tu Amor,” as she leads us into the following section…
Grupo Fantasma, a nine piece musical collective from Austin, Texas, is one of the most important independent acts in the Latin music genre. They exemplify the Latino bohemio vibe with their mix of Latin Funk, Cumbia, Salsa, Merengue, and defy genres in the process. In this playlist, listen to “Problemas,” the title track & most Salsa sounding song on their superb 2015 album, Problemas.
Esto Es Para Tí
Salsa Ain’t Nuthin’ But A Party
Cuban Timba band, Manolito Simonet y su Trabuco, give us the fun & flashy party song, “Farandulero.”
Mercado Negro, Latino musicians living in Switzerland, give us “Llegó La Hora.” This is the only song in the playlist that isn’t so new, but Mercado Negro’s Salsa is so exhilarating, I had to include them.
Finally, Boston producer Bosq, wraps up this modern Salsa playlist with “Ella.” He’s been hard at work in Puerto Rico updating Latin sounds, while always remaining true to the roots of the music. It’s my favorite track on his superb record, Celestial Strut, one of the best albums of 2015. It’s a high energy Salsa tune that’s a really irresistible dance floor packer.
Now that you’ve heard some of the best, most rollicking, fun, danceable, modern Salsa — I encourage you to dig deeper into the catalogs of these marvelous musicians. Whether you want to dance Salsa or not, or if your friends don’t like it — that isn’t important. Salsa is part of a profound musical tradition, and some of the most amazing music of the African diaspora you can listen to.
What are your favorite songs in this playlist? Let us know in the comments below…
Before you go… Watch Colombian powerhouse, La-33 Orquesta, do a Salsa cover version of “Bacalao” by Sidestepper…