Salvador Cuevas Was A Salsa Innovator


The great bass player Salvador Cuevas passed this week, not before revolutionizing the way the bass is played in Salsa music.

Salvador Cuevas with the Fania All Stars
Salvador Cuevas, here with the Fania All Stars, developed a unique style that made him remarkable.

Salvador Cuevas may have not been an inventor, but he was an innovator. He was the first to bring the slaps and funk style that he learned from R&B, Funk, and Jazz music, into Salsa music.

In doing that, he did what others did before him. Mario Bauza brought jazz into Afro-Cuban music with Machito. Tito Puente saw Gene Krupa elevate the role of the drummer in Jazz, and did the same in Latin music. Eddie Palmieri took the Charanga format and from that made a unique format of trombones with flute. The important thing is that Sal took what he learned, and wasn’t afraid to make something new out of it.

Salvador Cuevas created a new style of how to play the bass in Salsa. He used it with Willie Colon, Arturo Sandoval, the Fania All Stars, Ray Barretto, Tito Puente, and many others.

Here’s a video that grabs some of the best known Salsa songs where Salvador Cuevas is highlighted in the bass.

In creating his unique style, Salvador Cuevas took a different route than that taken by traditional bass players like Bobby Valentin, Eddie “Guagua” Rivera, and Andy Gonzalez, just to name a few. Salvador decided to be different and create something new.

In the excellent interview below by Project Enye (which I already shared in Facebook) you can listen to Salvador explain and demonstrate his playing style, and talk a bit about his experience in Salsa. By the way, Sal’s version of the origin of the word “Salsa” to denominate the music is just one of many theories of where the name came from, but that’s a topic for another blog.

Enjoy this interview with Salvador Cuevas, and Q.D.E.P (R.I.P).

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