Salsa is Puerto Rico’s most danceable musical export. The musical progeny of Cuban son from which it borrows its signature 3-2 and 2-3 clave patterns, the genre may have started in Cuba and Puerto Rico but really took root in the ’60s and ’70s in New York City where Puerto Rican immigrants fused son, mambo and little guaracha to make an extraordinary new musical form. Stars like Frankie Ruiz, Willie Colon, and Panamanian superstar Rubén Blades brought the music to the U.S., to Latin America, and by the mid ’70s to the world. Salsa bands are usually ambitions affairs, featuring many percussion instruments and horns, though the basic stripped-down ensemble consists of just claves, güiro, timbale, cowbell and congas. If you want to build your own rhythm, take a look at Stephen’s salsa page or the Salsa Beat Machine where you’ll be able to turn on and off the instruments as if you were leading your own big band. Speaking of which, see Colon and Blades together make a powerful duo on “Tiburon.”
COUNTRY: United States, Puerto Rico (U.S.), Cuba
KEY INSTRUMENTS: Bass, Bongo, Claves, Congas, Cowbell, Guiro, Maracas, Saxophone, Timbales, Trombone, Trumpet
SONG ON AATW: LATIN AMERICA CD: Un Barco Chiquitito (Cuban salsa)
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