Latin Music Album: 40 Years of “Así Se Compone un Son”


“Así Se Compone un Son” is one of my favorite Salsa albums of all-time. As Ismael Miranda continues to celebrate his 45 years of musical career, it’s worth noting that it’s been 40 years since the release of this Salsa classic album.

"Así Se Compone un Son" was Ismael Miranda's debut solo album in 1973.
“Así Se Compone un Son” was Ismael Miranda’s debut solo album in 1973.

In my opinion, “Así Se Compone un Son” is the best Salsa album Ismael Miranda has ever recorded! That’s including all albums he recorded during this previous 6 years with Orchestra Harlow, and the many he has recorded since. This is a Salsa album that you can play from top to bottom without the need to skip any song.

Salsa History Surrounding Release of “Así Se Compone un Son”

In 1973 when “Así Se Compone un Son” was released, Ismael Miranda was one of the hottest Salsa music artists. He got there through a series of increasingly bigger hits with Orchestra Harlow, especially his last 2 years with Harlow.

Larry Harlow's "Tribute to Arsenio Rodriguez" (1971) cemented Ismael Miranda's position as a Salsa star singer.
Larry Harlow’s “Tribute to Arsenio Rodriguez” (1971) cemented Ismael Miranda’s position as a Salsa star singer.

The 1971 album “Tribute to Arsenio Rodriguez”, in homage to the great Cuban “tresero” who almost re-invented the “son montuno” and who had died the previous year, was a huge hit.

Since the album as a selection of hits by “El Ciego Maravilloso”, the entire album was filled with great songs that blended perfectly with “El Judío Maravilloso” band’s Cuban-based style of Salsa music. And in case you are wondering; no, it’s no coincidence that both nicknames are similar. Larry Harlow’s nickname is due to his admiration for the music of Arsenio Rodriguez.

In 1972, Harlow released Harlow’s Harem (a compilation of the band’s best hits before the “Tribute to Arsenio Rodriguez”), followed by “Abran Paso”, another monumental album full of hit songs. All of that was exponentially multiplied when the Fania All Stars “Live from the Cheetah” was released that year (it was recorded in 1971), along with the movie “Our Latin Thing”. All members of the Fania All Stars had their stocks hit the sky, and Ismael Miranda was one of the biggest.

"Oportunidad" (1972) was Ismael Miranda's preview into a solo career.
“Oportunidad” (1972) was Ismael Miranda’s preview into a solo career.

The “cherry on the top” in 1972 came with the release of the Salsa album “Oportunidad”, an album where the Orchestra Harlow featured Isamel Miranda is if he were a soloist. By then, the writing on the wall was clear. Isamel Miranda was headed to start his solo career, being only one of very few singers at the time that would venture in a solo career back then, and probably one of the youngest!

Oscar Hernandez Audio Clip on the Making of “Así Se Compone un Son”

As Ismael Miranda assembled his solo orchestra, one of the selected musicians to form what Ismael would call the “Orquesta Revelación” was a young pianist by the name of Oscar Hernandez, who would later go on to work with Ray Barretto, Conjunto Libre, Ruben Blades’ Seis del Solar (as their musical director), and now the leader of the Spanish Harlem Orchestra.

The story of how Oscar became part of Ismael Miranda’s “Orquesta Revelación” and how they recorded that great album “Así Se Compone un Son” is best told by Oscar himself. Here’s the audio clip of my interview with Oscar Hernandez where tells the story of how he joined Ismael Miranda’s band and his participation in the album.

What I Liked About “Así Se Compone un Son”

  • Great Songs, Great Songs, Great Songs!!! – let’s start with the obvious. As you heard me say in the audio clip with Oscar Hernandez, this album is full of great songs. From the 1st to the last, you can enjoy every one of the songs in this album.
  • Song Variety – this is a lost art. You won’t find Salsa albums today that have a “Merengue” and a couple of great “Boleros”. Some artists may add a bolero or two, but no one is including “Merengues”, which was the practice back in the 1970’s and through the 80’s.
  • Great musicianship – as Oscar Hernandez said, this album had great musicians and great arrangements. Everything came together to form a great album.

What I Didn’t Like About “Así Se Compone un Son”

  • I have one word for you…”nada” (nothing).

My Recommendation of “Así Se Compone un Son”

If you are a Salsa music fan and don’t have this album in your collection, I recommend you get it. If you are a Salsa dancer, again this is a must have. You might say that you have listened to a few more recent Ismael Miranda albums and you’re not a fan of his music. But I tell you that if you haven’t heard this album, you don’t know what you’re missing. ‘Nough said!

I hope you liked this review (more like this story) of the 40th anniversary of “Así Se Compone un Son”. If you indeed liked it, please “Like” or G+ it and pass it along. Gracias!

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