Archive | June 2017

How the word “SALSA” made it into dance

Salsa means ‘dressing’ in Spanish, popularly adopted as a word metaphorically associated with the taste, joy and strength of life.

In 1933, the Cuban musician Ignacio Piñeiro used the term for the first time in a Cuban son song entitled “Échale salsita”.
In the mid-1940s, Cuban Cheo Marquetti traveled to Mexico. Back in Cuba, with influence of the spicy sauces for the food, he gives that name to his group: Conjunto los Salseros, with whom he recorded a couple of records for the Disquera Panart and Egrem.

Music author Sue Steward claims that the word was originally used in music as “a form of appreciation for a particular spice or a single quick, coming to describe a specific genre of music from the mid-1970s when a group Of New York’s Latino musicians, began examining the arrangements of the popular classic mambo bands of the 1940s and 1950s. She mentions that the first person to use the term salsa to refer to this musical genre was a Venezuelan radio disc jockey named Phidias Danilo Escalona, who was broadcasting a morning radio program called La hora de la salsa in which music spread Latina produced in New York as a response to the bombardment of rock music in those days (beatlemania). It was lunch time, dressing, taste, and of course,

It is until the 1970s that the boom of the word salsa was born as a definition of the musical genre, due to the emergence of the famous Fania All-Stars orchestra, directed by the Dominican Johnny Pacheco who – along with the late lawyer Jerry Masucci – would found the important Seal salsero Fania Records.

Ed Morales mentions that the word salsa is assigned to the time that a band increases to put the dancers in a high part, to thank a musical moment and to express a type of cultural nationalism, proclaiming the warmth and flavor of the Latin culture.

Salsa-2 – Origins and evolution

In the 1930s, septets and sextets (which used only bongó) were very popular in Cuba. When Gerardo Machado banned the use of bongó, the charangas (that only used timbales) became popular, coming to appear some groupings in the United States. Censorship was lifted in the late 1930s and bongos were used again.

Around 1940, Rafael Ortiz’s Key Set introduced the tumbadoras or congas into an orchestra, instruments previously used only in Afro-Cuban folk music. Arsenio Rodríguez popularized the use of the congas to integrate them to its set, introducing the son montuno to commercial level. The integration of the tumbadoras and bongos in the sets that played were montuno would be one of the fundamental sources of the instrumentation of orchestras of dance.

In the 1940s, Machito added trombones to son montuno and guaracha, these innovations influenced musicians like Jose Curbelo, Benny Moré, Bebo Valdés. Mario Bauza, director and arranger of the Machito Los Afro-Cubans orchestra, is considered the father of Afro-Cuban jazz. In its album Tanga of 1943 fused the Afro-Cuban music with the jazz.

The influence of Afro-Cuban jazz and the Mambo of Dámaso Pérez Prado in 1948 determined that the saxophone was introduced in the orchestras of son montuno and guaracha. Enrique Jorrín in 1955 adds trumpets to charanga orchestras that until that moment only used violin and flute.


In the 1950s, Cuban dance music, such as son montuno, mambo, rumba and chachacha, were the mainstream music in the United States and Europe. In New York City, the Cuban style of the bands was formed mainly by Cuban, Puerto Rican and Dominican musicians. As an example, we can mention Machito, Tito Rodríguez, the Catalan director Xavier Cugat, Johnny Pacheco and Tito Puente.

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Final salsa

Outside the circle of New York, groups such as the Aragon Orchestra, Sonora Matancera and Dámaso Pérez Prado and their mambo achieved an important international projection. Mambo was influenced by Afro-Cuban jazz and the son, great bands of this genre kept alive the long tradition of jazz within Latin music, while the original jazz masters were limited to the small spaces of the bebop era.

In 1969 Juan Formell introduced the electric bass in the sonero ensembles of Cuba.

The Puerto Rican Four was introduced by Yomo Toro in Willie Colón’s 1971 orchestra and electric piano in the 1970’s by Larry Harlow.

Latin music performed in New York since 1960 was led by musicians like Ray Barretto and Eddie Palmieri, heavily influenced by imported Cuban rhythms such as Pachanga and chachacha. After the 1962 missile crisis, Cuban-American contact declined sharply, resulting in the growth of Puerto Rican influence in New York’s salsa of the 1970s.

The Puerto Rican community of New York, called by the American nuyoricans, became the leader of Latin music, although always influenced by the music of renowned Cuban celebrities like Miguelito Valdés, Machito, Jose Curbelo, Chano Pozo and Arsenio Rodríguez.

This entry was posted on June 9, 2017, in Goals.