The Connecting Point Between Jazz & Salsa – Descarga Los Van Van

by chipboaz on December 7, 2016

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While Latin Jazz and salsa certainly sit on different sides of the musical spectrum, there’s a blurry line between them. There’s different commercial considerations between the two music, leading to very different artistic decisions in the creation of final products. Salsa is largely created for dancers, which dictates the liberties it can take with rhythm and form; sometimes Latin Jazz feels danceable, but it’s not a mandate for the music. Still, both salsa and Latin Jazz share common roots in Afro-Cuban dance music, and ultimately draw upon many of the same musical elements in performance. The biggest commonality between these two styles seems to be a high value upon improvisation. They rely on different harmonic and melodic languages, but there’s simply no doubt that musicians in both styles love to stretch their chops in a good descarga.

With this in mind, I always love to see a heavy salsa band step outside the dance floor for a jam session, and there’s not a much heavier salsa band than Los Van Van. This group defined the modern era of salsa, combining a deep connection to the African roots of Cuban music with the ideals of modern popular music. They lead the timba revolution in the 1990s and continue to be a world wide phenomenon in Cuban music. While on tour in the US, several members of the group took some time to break out from their standard repertoire and record a ferocious descarga. We see of the band members at their finest here – from Efrain Chibas Wilson’s aggressively syncopated piano work to nimble flights of flute notes from Jorge Leliebre and Samuel Formell’s awe inspiring drum solo, these guys have some serious musical ideas.

Do you have a Latin Jazz video to share? E-mail a link to latinjazzcorner@gmail.com

Check out recent Latin Jazz videos:
Tito Puente Playing Dave Brubeck’s Take Five
Chucho Valdes And Michel Camilo Performing El Manisero
Cutting Edge Brazilian Jazz From Hermeto Pascoal
Okonkolo Concertante From Cuban Saxophonist Yosvany Terry
Paquito D’Rivera And The Panamericana Ensemble Performing Live

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