Drawing The Line Between Latin Jazz & Salsa: Ray Barretto Live

by chipboaz on April 27, 2017

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There’s a blurry line between salsa and Afro-Cuban jazz, that sometimes simply finds people lumping the two musical styles into one genre. The two styles have a number of similarities, ranging from the use of Afro-Cuban rhythms to melodic phrasing, and even the inclusion of improvisation. There are fundamental differences between the two styles though, ranging from harmonic movement and a more advanced melodic language to the modes of commercial consumption. The similarities are often strong enough for mass audiences to confuse the two styles though, and to many people, the words Latin Jazz and salsa are interchangeable. There’s no doubt that these are two different types of music though, and while they are related, they spend their time existing in two different worlds.

If there’s one musician who knew about the blurry line between salsa and Latin Jazz, it was conguero and NEA Jazz Master Ray Barretto. Originally a huge jazz fan, Barretto started his musical career in the early fifties, playing with beboppers like Charlie Parker, Gene Ammons, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, and more. In the early sixties, Barretto recorded “El Watusi,” a single that made him a boogaloo superstar. He continued his funky streak on the Fania label, recording albums like Acid that connected him with Latin music as well as rhythm and blues audiences. The 1973 album Indestructible and his work with the Fania All-Stars shot him to the top of the salsa world, a music that became his trademark. After riding high in his salsa career, Barretto switched gears and focused on Latin Jazz, a fact that dismayed his fans; he knew the difference though, and although his fans screamed for salsa, he stayed on the jazz path. The result was years of amazing Latin Jazz with his group New World Spirit, which we’ll watching today in celebration of Barretto’s astounding Latin Jazz work.

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

Check out recent Latin Jazz videos:
Leny Andrade, Paquito D’Rivera, Hendrik Murkens, & Romero Lubambo Play Bluesette
In The Studio: Andy Gonzalez Recording Misty For Entre Colegas
Poncho Sanchez: Mambo Inn & Green Dolphin Mash-Up
Exploring Choro With Anat Cohen & Trio Brasileiro: In The Spirit Of Baden
Re-Contextualizing Music: Michel Camilo Big Band Playing Caribe

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