Monday, June 18, 2007

My Favorite Tunes: Part 1 of 367

"SalsaMama" asked me--via one of the comments--to put together a list of songs I like to go along with my "Listening to Music: 100 Times or More" article. Well, it's kind of a long list.

Over 30 years of serious music listening I've created an extremely schizophrenic music list. I may be listening to Celia Cruz, Tito Puente, Sonora Carruseles, or twenty other Latin artists, and the next week I'm listening to Faith Evans, JoJo, Cassie, Usher and/or Janet Jackson. It could be the Beatles, Steely Dan, Toto, Miles Davis, Chick Corea and/or the Brecker Brothers. I actually hate listing any artists because listing a few means I'm excluding hundreds who have contributed to my music education over the years. Ask me a month from now and I could list twenty or thirty others, ignoring those in the list above.

Because I'm too lazy to put together all 367 of them in one massive list, I decided to float them out a few at a time. I’ll focus on Salsa, but take some side trips because I’ve learned about music from so many styles, and I suspect it will help you as well.

Salsa tends to be very “dense,” with many, many sounds layered on top of each other. This is part of my fascination with the music. Sometimes it’s easier to hear concepts when listening to simpler music and my introduction to salsa was more from a Latin-jazz perspective over 25 years ago.

In this 367 part series, I'll continue to expand on the details over time.

Here is one piece of music I think should be in every salsa lover's collection (and every instructor should be playing it at some point for their students):

La Salsa Nunca Se Acaba (The Salsa Never Ends) – by Susie Hansen

Buy a copy from iTunes or Amazon. Don't try to get a free copy; pay the buck and let the artist make a few cents so they can make some more music. Or purchase her CD from Susie Hansen's site.

This song is EXCELLENT and starts with the clave, and adds instruments one at a time until the complete band is firing on all cylinders.

This is one of those songs you should listen to 100 times or more per the article referenced above. The introduction alone (up to the first major break) should be played over and over until you hear what each instrument is contributing to the mix.

Download this tune and start listening today. Put it on your iPod (set to repeat) or burn a CD. Play it as you drive, eat lunch, or go on a dinner date (get those dual earplugs so your date can hear as well). If you only have one set of headphones, ignore your dinner partner for a few minutes, I'm sure they'll understand.

We'll discuss the details and I'll drill down as soon as possible. The more you've listened to it, the more you'll get from our discussions.

Let me know what you think of the tune! (And check out the next article in this series, where this tune is used for a performance.)

Great works are performed not by speed or strength but perseverance.
-Samuel Jackson


  1. I LOVE THAT SONG!!!! I've probably already listened to it 100 times and would enthusiastically second it for the list (not that you need your commenters' endorsements ...).

    There's a YouTube clip of the sublime Frankie Martinez and Nancy Ortiz dancing to it floating around out on the Interwebs. I'm guessing it was at some Congress. Now that's some social dancing. I know they've both been dancing since they were 2 but that's how I hope to dance with a partner some day. Despite some criticisms (formed in part by a little envy, JMHO) of both of them having done too many solo shines in their careers -- especially Frankie, with his isolations -- they are so in tune with one another. It's hot.

    There's a guy who comes in to dance with Nancy at the end ... well ... (in view of the viewpoints so eloquently expressed in your posts about partnership and gentleness, I'll let you make your own evaluations).

  2. First, I love input from others!

    Ah... I forgot about that clip. I saw it a few months ago. I'm writing a quick and dirty article so everybody sees what you are talking about!

    GREAT SUGGESTION on your part! Please keep the feedback coming.

  3. I just published a quick and dirty article that references the clip. A great tune and a great couple dancing!

  4. That clip is from the party for nancy's website launch.... it was held at soho dance.

    Before you condemn the second lead, notice that (a) nancy was calling for him to come break in and (b) how much more animated she is dancing with him versus frankie.

  5. I appreciate your comments!

    I still don't know Nancy's last name so please let me know so I can properly credit her.

    I don't remember anybody "condemning the second lead". He was clearly invited into the dance, so it's not like he just cut in to show off.

    I've danced with Edie immediately after a world class lead and it wasn't pretty. It's easy for me to be a critic from my computer! (Although I never do it anonymously. I'm directly accountable for my statements.)

    Since you brought it up here is my quick take: He takes a totally different approach to the music and Nancy compared with Frankie. He dances big, he is rougher, and he appears to be more into his own footwork than showing off her.

    It may have been the heat of the moment, it may be the way he dances. Seeing one clip is almost unfair to all but the world-class dancers who are filmed regularly, dance in cirles all the time and have performance experience.

    I respect the second guys guts for going into the circle. I don't know if I would have done that so I immediately admire him.

    As always, being a critic of others is easy, my respect always goes to those in the arena, even if I don't like every aspect of what they do.

    I'll write an article to drill down. Your comments and feedback are always appreciated.

  6. Hahah! I read your Listening to Music: 100 Times or More article and I wondered what music would I listen to 100 times? THIS was the song I first thought of!!! I LOVE this song! And yes, it is an ESSENTIAL for every salsa instructor.


I love feedback. Your thoughts, feelings and comments are appreciated. Civil disagreements and other points of view are always welcomed!

Feel free to send me private mail if appropriate.

Don Baarns - Unlikely Salsero