Perhaps the Holy Grail for Afro-Cuban music and an insightful look at the rich history of music and dance in the Bay Area.
Brent Black / www.bop-n-jazz.com
When you think Afro-Cuban you think Dizzy Gillespie and perhaps the mind immediately travels to some of the magnificent venues in the Big Apple. Fair enough...But when you stop and consider the actual development of the music coinciding with dance for a unified cultural explosion then you need to go back to the left coast and think about San Francisco. The godfathers of the development of mambo, Latin jazz and salsa music include Cal Tjader and Benny Velarde and we are only scratching the surface.
Salsa De La Bahia is a two disc set which compliments the Rita Hargrave documentary The Last Mambo. Of course when you think of Bay Area titans of the Latin jazz movement then trombonist Wayne Wallace is probably the first name to pop up and justifiably so. The documentary will be released in 2014 but till then this magnificent two disc burner on Wayne Wallace's Patois label will serve as a delicious appetizer to get you ready for what is to follow soon. Here we have the old and the new with three new pieces from Estrellas De La Bahia and an all star orchestra comprised of some of the finest that San Francisco has to offer. As an old school critic that still values good liner notes we have the real deal in Jesse "Chuy" Varela who has worked or contributed to publications such as Jazz Times, Latin Beat, and The San Francisco Chronicle and has done this for over three decades. As some of the local hot spots began to disappear from the area due to the economy, Hargrave was inspired along with Wallace to begin documenting the rich vibrant history of the music and the area it calls home.
All of the music on this package are from bands still active today. "Canto, Clave, Candela" from Edgardo Cambom opens disc one. Wayne Wallace's 'El Espirtu Del Mambo" is a microcosm of some of the essential voices from the area including John Santos and Jesus Diaz. "Rumba Para Paul" is a soulful and soul filled tribute to cherished drummer Paul van Wageningen who passed in 2012. In short, whether you dig Latin jazz or are simply curious to learn more about the history of the music from one of the most important cities in its illustrious history then Salsa De La Bahia Vol. 1 is indeed the real deal. Sincere, smoldering, and truly authentic it simply does not get better than this!
For more information and complete details please check out: www.thelastmambo.com