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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove

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Salsa Con Soul

Alex Wilson Records AWCD 6



1. You're Fine
2. Sabroson
3. Rhythm and Life
4. Antonio
5. Mi Buenaventura
6. Stronger
7. This Time
8. Let's Stay Together
9. Memories
10. Rio De Janeiro Blue
Alex Wilson - Piano, keyboards
Emeris Solis - Congas
Dave Pattman - Timbales, bongoes, hand percussion
Javier Fioramonti - Bass
Steve Dawson, Annette Brown - Trumpets
Trevor Mires, Alistair White - Trombones
Jason Thompson, Nicky Brown - Keyboards
Aquilla Fearon, Naomi Phillips, Elpidio Caicedo, Wayne Ellington - Lead vocals
Phebe Edwards, Samantha White, Paul Lee, Alfonso de Jesus, Nicky Brown - Backing vocals
Pete Whitfield, Sarah Brandwood-Spencer, Simon Turner - Strings

"Salsa" is one of those terms which are difficult to define, because it signifies different things to different people. In Spanish "salsa" means sauce and the music is a kind of spicy Latin-American brand, with some of the spice injected by jazz. Nowadays it can vaguely mean almost any kind of Latin-American music, but the genre can still be distinguished from the more subdued Latin-American rhythms like the bossa nova.

The jazz element of salsa means that this album deserves to be reviewed on this website, although the addition of "soul" rather muddies the water, especially with ingredients that some jazzers would regard as alien to jazz - such as backing vocalists. In fact pianist Alex Wilson supplies a spicy brand of music which embraces jazz in such aspects as the punchy brass and the invigorating rhythms. Salsa shares with jazz such things as rhythmic drive and an emphasis on percussion, and those elements are clearly on display here. This is stimulating music which makes you want to dance or at least tap your feet.

On the other hand, some aspects of this album may make jazz fans cringe. There are some fairly vacuous lyrics - like those in the opening You're Fine (e.g. "Hold me close, you're just what I want"). Leader Alex Wilson had a hand in writing many of the songs but few of them are very memorable and they tend to merge into one indistinguishable bunch. Much of the music depends on the frequent repetition of riffs - from the piano and brass in Sabroson, the piano in Antonio, etc. - which can sometimes get irritating rather than attractive.

Having said that, there is an undeniable appeal in such tracks as Rhythm and Life (with massed vocals which seem to have taken lessons from Stevie Wonder) and Al Green's Let's Stay Together (because it is a catchy song). In any case, as already suggested, this is good music for dancing or simply to create a warm atmosphere. That's con-soul-ing.

Tony Augarde





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