“Siboney,” - Los Panchos
Los Panchos, the most famous guitar trio in Latin America, first met and recorded in New York in 1944. They included two Mexicans and one Puerto Rican. And this song, “[song title],” is written by a Cuban, Ernesto Lecuona.
Latin Americans have shared and listened to eachother’s music for centuries. In the multi-national music scene of modern New York, that sharing has accelerated, blurring the boundaries between musical genres and nations.
“Que te Pedí?” - La Lupe and Tito Puente
Up at 0:00—0:50
Listen here to the conga drum:
Speak: kun kin kun, kun kin kun
That’s the rhythm of the bolero, a kind of love song popular all over Latin America.
[LISTEN: 0:24 “Que te pedi”, then fade down right away]
Cuban singer La Lupe teamed up with Puerto Rican bandleader Tito Puente to record this bolero in the early 1960s. La Lupe mesmerized her audiences with a dramatic stage persona and a voice that overflowed with feeling.
[LISTEN: “Pide…” 1:42-2:10]
“Dejalo que suba” - Cortijo y su Combo
0:00--- (loop extra time to fit text and rhythm syllables)
In the 1950s, Percussionist Rafael Cortijo and singer Ismael Rivera brought Afro-Puerto Rican music onto the scene. When Cortijo played at the Palladium in New York, the dance floor shook so hard that people got scared. This song is in the style of plena, whose rhythm sounds like:
Speak: cum, cum-pa, cum, cum-pa
“Jala Jala” - El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico
The jala jala was a popular dance in Puerto Rico and New York in the late 60s. Dancers moved with a pulling motion on one side and then the other. It started with this song by El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico, that has a calypso feel. You can hear the calypso in the bell:
Speak: ka-, ka-, kaka, kaka, kaka
“Ay mi cumbia” - Eddie Palmieri
The mix of Caribbean styles and rhythms in New York City makes for versatile musicians.Listen to the skill with which Eddie Palmieri’s band, for example, switches between a salsa groove and a Colombian cumbia.
Other times, different styles get mixed right together…
“Raiz del sueño” - Ruben Blades
Play opening and then splice to coro
[LISTEN: intro, w/’Merenbomba’]
In this song about the beauty of the Caribbean, Panamanian singer Ruben Blades creates a rhythm he calls “merenbomba” by mixing the rhythm of Puerto Rican bomba:
Speak: “ka, ka-ka, ka-ka”
LISTEN: 1:56 ‘ecua he’
With the rhythm of Dominican merengue:
Speak “cum-pilin, cum”
Bolero, calypso, bomba, plena, salsa, cumbia, merengue. There’s no happier place than a dance where everyone feels at home.