Latino Music Album: Lula’s Lounge Essential Tracks Review


Who? Yeah, I know! That’s what I said too…until I hit the “Play” button on “Lula’s Lounge Essential Tracks”. Then I was drinking Cuban Salsa music through a fire hydrant.

Lula is a lounge in Toronto which hosts Latino music, particularly good Cuban Salsa music and Latin jazz. Lula’s Lounge is celebrating 10 years of hosting the best Latino music in Toronto, and somehow, they decided to capture some of the best of those great bands that perform there in one recording. These are bands that have been doing their own recordings.

Hilario Duran is in "Lula's Lounge Essential Tracks"
Hilario Duran (Canadian resident) teamed with Canadian Jane Bunnett in “Cuban Rhapsody”.

Unless you’re from Toronto, Canada you probably haven’t heard of Lula’s Lounge, the gathering place for Latino music there. Neither did I, until I got a ping from PaperRockSissors (music marketing firm) to check it out. I was glad I did.

Lula’s Lounge contains 15 Salsa songs performed by 14 different artists (the only one repeated is Roberto Linares). Among the Latino music performers are the band of Cuban pianist Hilario Duran and the band of Jane Burnett.

Ahh…so this is where they met to collaborate in that amazing Latin jazz album “Cuban Rhapsody”.

What I Like About “Lula’s Lounge Essential Tracks”

  • Instrument solos – Do you remember the old Salsa songs that frequently included some instrument solo? Have you noticed solos are almost extinct in Salsa music lately? Not in this Salsa album! Most Salsa songs feature some sort of solo, which is a nice change from the commercial Salsa albums.
  • Plenty of Salsa songs (mostly good) – with 15 Salsa songs, you get a lot for your money. And the good thing is mostly good Cuban Salsa music.
  • Different bands, different styles – the good thing about Lula’s Lounge is that it’s a great sampler platter with lots of variety of Salsa music. You can listen to 14 different band each with their own Latino music style. Since they are not commercially over-played, they provide a refreshing listening experience.
  • My favorite songs – are “La Crisis” by Roberto Linares, “La Molotera” by Jorge Maza and Tipica Toronto, and “Cuando Me Toca a Mi” by Hilario Duran. “La Crisis” is just a very catchy Salsa song with a real, original, and well written theme. The execution has Latino “sabor” (flavor) all over. I love it! “La Molotera” is a Cuban charanga song with a modern twist; a mix of Orquesta Aragon and Los Van Van. Yesssss! And Hilario Duran’s Salsa song “Cuando Me Toca a Mi” sounds like the 1st album of Juan de Marcos Afro-Cuban All-Stars, with a piano solo by Hilario. “Saborrrr”.
  • I should also mention the “Guaguanco” by Changui Habana. This is a Los Van Van “want-to-be” band, that has their true heart-felt Salsa swing. Even though the band format may have been copied from Los Van Van, the band sound is true and original. I enjoyed this Salsa song!

Suggestions on “Lula’s Lounge”

Lula's Lounge Essential Tracks album cover art.
Lula’s Lounge Essential Tracks 1 has great Cuban Salsa music.

Hard to pick something I don’t like when I’m bought into this Salsa album concept of recording various local bands in an album. But logically there will be songs I don’t like as much.

  • Songs I didn’t care much for are:
    – “Pa Ti DJ” precisely by Roberto Linares,
    – “Oye Rumberito” by the Puentes Brothers, and…
    “Ron con Ron” by Jane Bunnett didn’t make much of a dent on me. I was especially disapointed in the Jane Bunnett song since I generally like her music. I quite didn’t embrace the lyrics and the arrangement.

My Recommendation of “Lula’s Lounge”

I definitely enjoyed “Lula’s Lounge” and plan to keep it in my iPod so my friends get to listen to some of my favorite songs. If you like Cuban Salsa music, or simply Salsa Dura, you will like this album. I loved that it included solos of various instruments along the way, including piano, bongo, clarinet, etc. It has plenty of music by mostly unknown Latino music artists (I only knew Hilario Duran and Jane Bunnett).

This is a fresh concept with fresh Salsa music sound that will keep you curious and dancing throughout the album. How can “Lula” have gone wrong if she probably screened the Salsa album performers based on the reaction of the public at the live performances at her lounge?

You can’t go wrong with this!

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