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Ruben Blades y Willie Colon - JPop.com
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Ruben Blades y Willie Colon

Ruben Blades y Willie Colon

Ruben Blades y Willie Colon


Willie Colón is one of the giants of modern salsa, a popular trombonist and bandleader since the late 1960s. Born and raised in the Bronx, he hasn't shied away from incorporating R&B and rock influences into his music, without compromising his Latin identity; Sal Cuevas, his bassist during the late 70s and early 80s, played unusually far-forward - his funk-inspired slapping gives a distinctive flavor to songs like "Casanova," "Juanito Alimaña" and "Tiempo Pa' Matar. Read more on Last.fm
Willie Colón is one of the giants of modern salsa, a popular trombonist and bandleader since the late 1960s. Born and raised in the Bronx, he hasn't shied away from incorporating R&B and rock influences into his music, without compromising his Latin identity; Sal Cuevas, his bassist during the late 70s and early 80s, played unusually far-forward - his funk-inspired slapping gives a distinctive flavor to songs like "Casanova," "Juanito Alimaña" and "Tiempo Pa' Matar." As time has gone by, Colón has expanded his musical palette still further, drawing on Brazillian influences and even flirting with hip-hop. Initially cultivating a rather stereotypical gangster image, he has become an articulate and responsible public figure - even running for US Congress in 1994 - clever at injecting political messages into his music without becoming overbearing. Rubén Blades brought the lyrical sophistication of South American "nueva canción" and Cuban "nueva trova" to salsa, telling acidly-rendered stories of devastated lives, but with an everpresent message of hope. After 1980, Blades wanted out of his contract with the exploitative Fania label, but was contractually obligated to record several more albums; these were generally toss- offs and Blades himself tells his fans to avoid them.

After signing with Electra, Blades assembled a top-notch band (known variously as Seis Del Solar or Son Del Solar). Then he fell in with a set of West Coast liberals (Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt), started making movies, ran for president of his native Panama (although he hadn't lived there for two decades) and in between still manages to make some excellent music. Note to gringos: Blades is fully bilingual, and does his own translations into English (all his post-Fania LPs come with lyrics in both languages), which makes it possible to fully appreciate the poetry in his best work. And there's a very nice discography of all the songs Blades has written and/or sung. I'm still missing some of the early Colón albums, but I'm working on it.

Hector Lavoe is the vocalist on many of Willie's early records (Willie also produced Lavoe's first solo albums), followed by Blades; eventually Colón got tired of dealing with egos and starting singing lead himself. When he's not planning his farewell tour, Colón runs his own web site; he's even linked to us, which is nice of him since we don't exactly see eye to eye on certain of his albums. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..

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