This is not the classic Salsa music sound of the ’70s, but old-school Salseros will likely find the music of Guasabara exciting. This is not Salsa Romantica nor Pop-Salsa, but this might spike the interest of fans of the more contemporary style of Salsa.
I was looking forward to the next album from one of the most progressive Salsa bands today, and Guasabara did not disappoint with “Donde Estan“.
Guasabara Combo Continues Progressive Salsa Sound
Gusabara’s founder and director Jose Lugo (“Luguito”) has innovated a sound that combines elements of classic Salsa (which he learned first-hand early on by playing with maestros like Bobby Valentin), and Romantic-pop Salsa, with the basic swing of Timba, to create a sound that is aggressive and yet easy to casual Salsa listener.
It’s a formula that mixes well with old-style Salsa urban lyrics, as well as with Romantic ones, and can easily go from a Salsa dance swing, to a Merengue beat, as well as into a Latin Jazz. And Luguito can make all of this happen with just a handful of musicians.
This is the 3rd album for Jose Lugo’s Guasabara. Unlike the 1st album, which was an excellent display of what can be done with a big band format and great guest singers and musicians, the last two albums have been more in the “combo” format.
Guasabara Combo is perhaps “Luguito’s” practical evolution to perform his progressive Salsa style of music, in a smaller combo where he can more easily find gigs that will allow him to meet payroll.
“Donde Estan” Has Versatility and Danceable Swing
Released in January 2016, “Donde Estan” is Lugo’s follow-up to “Poetic Justic” (2011), which was the album that marked Guasabara’s new Salsa sound.
Within the 12 tracks, you will find danceable Salsa, like the album’s 1st single and title track “Donde Estan“. From there, the album continues a solid track of songs, with old and new songs alike.
Famed Salsa Romantica Cuban author Jorge Luis Piloto contributes a couple of songs, and Luguito goes to the classic archives to perform a new version of “La Princesa” (previously recorded by Rafael Cortijo and Orquesta Mulenze), which provides a window into Lugo’s innovative brain.
Cortijo’s version of “La Princesa” was in Plena beat, while Mulenze’s was in form of Merengue. Lugo’s version provides glimpses of both, Plena and Merengue, with the help of master Conguero Giovanni Hidalgo, who navigates the rhythm daiquiri with his characteristic smoothness.
Guasabara’s mostly unknown singers JoseMa Lugo (Lugo’s son, so would that make him “Luguitito”?) and Luis Omar Sanabria, do a solid performance in the vocals, with the backup of Salsa veterans Lalo Rodriguez, Pichie Perez, and Ricky Villanueva in the coros.
Guasabara’s musicians are:
Jan Duclerc – Trompeta
Abdel Rivera – Flugel Horn
Felito Rodríguez – Tenor Sax
Pablo Padin – Timbal/Drums & Bongo
Luisier Rivera – Conga
Jorge Rodriguez – bajo
José M. Lugo – piano y sintetizado
Guasabara’s “Donde Estan” is a Salsa Gem
Jose Lugo, with his innovative arrangements, creates a full sound with a band of 7 musicians + 2 singers.
I found Guasabara’s sound to be fresh yet dance-inspired Salsa, which should delight the musical taste of a wide range of Salsa fans. I certainly enjoyed this album!
Guasabara Performs “Donde Estan” (Video):
Here’s a good look at Guasabara in action, performing their title song.