La película 'el Cantante'- Homenaje a Héctor Lavoe.
I just read two articles in el Nuevo Herald about this film El cantante that is a tribute to a legendary salsero and one of my favorites from that era, Héctor Lavoe. The principal actors in the film are: Ismael Miranda, who was a very good friend of Héctor Lavoe and Marc Anthony.
Miranda- "Estoy bien emocionado porque no solamente tuve la oportunidad de compartir con Héctor toda la vida, Héctor fue uno de mis mejores amigos... que me llamaran y me dieran la oportunidad de estar aquí, en la película, es un gran honor", afirmó.
I doubt the film will play in my area once completed however, I think it’s a wonderful tribute to one of best salsa artists of that era and one who had a legendary career with so many hits IMO a repertoire of salsas that are definitely difficult to challenge.
Héctor was one of the legendary Fania all stars, a group that truly started the 'salsa era' in NY and elsewhere. Héctor was renowned for his career alongside Willie Colón, salsero and trombonista. As a duo these two Puertorican salseros were incomparable. I have a complete collection of Héctor and Willie’s music to remind me of that style of salsa music that I will forever cherish.
Those of you who are also fans of Héctor Lavoe will surely agree that his music is incomparable. IMO there is no sonero today who can match Lavoe, that’s probably why salsa has practically reached a standstill over the last decade except for the contributions of some really good Colombian groups over the years. Cuban musicians have always held their own and certainly represent a different genre of salsa.
El cantante is currently being filmed in PR and after that it will probably be available on DVD. Some of my favorite songs by Lavoe are: "Piraña", "Calle Luna, Calle Sol", "La Murga", "Día de suerte", "El cantante", "Rompe saragüey", and "Triste y vacía".
One aspect I admire about Puertoricans is the respect they have for their legendary artists and Héctor Lavoe is one of them. I will never forget some great moments I have enjoyed in San Juan, PR when music was played by legends like Héctor Lavoe and Wille Colón… the dance floor was always full.
I truly hope El cantante turns out to be a good Spanish film.
Here are the links to the articles of the film and Lavoe.
Last edited by Marianopolita; 01-28-2006 at 12:44 PM.
Lesley D, I too share your love for the salsa of that era, and frankly today's salsa is a pale facsimile of the original. Though I do admire Marc Antony in some ways (I think he is a good actor and has a distinctive voice), his range is much more circumscribed (basically his shtick is to take a bolero and then move from that into a salsa), and he is no pregonero. In fact, I once read a story about how today's salseros were consulting with yesterday's giants in order to write down suitable pregones -- now if you understand salsa properly, then you know that the improvisational lyrics dreamed up by the singer, which are not part of the original lyrics (often written in turn by the Great Master T. Curet Alonso), were an important part of his prowess as a salsa singer. Today's salsa by comparison is all scripted and the themes are adulterated.
However, while I too admire Hector Lavoe, I think there were much better singers from that era, particularly Ismael Rivera, who is a giant too in so many ways. And while the Lavoe/Colon team was incredible, and one of the main impulses behind the creation of salsa (the others being Eddie Palmieri from the the Bronx, and Johnny Pacheco/El Conde), I actually favor the subsequent team of Blades and Colon. Ruben Blades is never given enough credit I think for his remarkable contribution to the genre, both as a singer/pregonero (his improvisations are even better than those of Lavoe) and as a song writer -- think of all the classics he wrote, and the marvelous addition of storytelling to the genre that he developed (Paula C, Juan Pachanga, Pedro Navaja, Pablo Pueblo, etc etc). Just listen to his heart rending singing on Lluvia de tu Cielo, and you know you are dealing with one of the very greatest of salseros. Lavoe's strength lay elsewhere, and his pregones were generally weak -- check out the great song, Periodico de Ayer, lyrics again by Curet Alonso: this theme would give you a great platform for improvisation but Lavoe never takes off. I think Lavoe's best stuff was the earliest, those titles that you yourself ticked off. Those are amazing songs.
Btw, the thing that made the Colon/Lavoe team so great was not their musicianship -- if you listen to their earliest efforts, particularly the songs of El Malo, the musicianship is very weak, particularly in comparison with the work of people like Eddie Palmieri. Course, they learned and improved quickly, under Johnny Pacheco's tutelage, but the thing about this team was the incredible force of character behind the music, the ideas, the rawness (after all that slick mambo) -- the spirit. And Lavoe, in some ways to his eventual dismay, personified this spirit, lived it, and died by it.
A great website for all things Salsa (and latin music in general) is descarga.com, which gives reviews of albums, interviews, a glossary, links, and so on. There is also a very good book, now outin a new edition, that covers the history of salsa, how it differs from mambo, etc:
El Libro De La Salsa:
Cronica De La Música Del Caribe Urbano
by Cesar Miguel Rondon
First of all thank you for your kind and inspiring reply. Your knowledge of salsa, one my favorite genres is refreshing and impressive. However, this I knew from your posts about music in another thread.
While I agree with most of your points, I think opinions differ just like music and that's the spice of life. I will not refute them because they are your opinions however, it gives me a different angle to consider when thinking about salsa from this era. For example you like the Blades/ Colón combo better whereas I am a die hard fan of the Lavoe/ Colón duo. Nevertheless all were and still are big contributors to 'la salsa vieja' and this should not go unrecognized. In my opening post I did not want to get into too much detail about salsa because my post was really to praise the making of the film because I think Lavoe is a salsa legend and so are all the others we both mentioned such as Willie Colón, Ruben Blades, Eddie Palmieri (absolutely! The piano man of salsa with his legendary hit "Vámonos p'al monte"), Ismael Rivera (I completely agree) and the list can certainly be extended.
I agree with you that the voices of salsa today don't hold a candle to those who are part of 'la salsa vieja' era and it is a combination of many weaknesses ranging from lyrics to musical ability. While Marc Anthony is one of the better salsa artists today he is not a pillar salsero IMO because he lacks creativity and uniqueness. As you clearly stated he takes boleros and transforms them into salsa. The best example of this is his big hit "Hasta que te conocí". I am sure many believe that it is a Marc Anthony original and it's not. It's a remake of a bolero transformed into salsa and Marc Anthony did a wonderful rendition of the salsa version thus putting his career on the map. I like Marc Anthony but he's what I call a soft salsero and should never be compared to the likes of Colón, Lavoe, Rivera, Blades etc. In my opinion his best albums are Todo a su tiempo and Contra la corriente. Both albums reveal Marc Anthony's talent and why he will remain in the forefront in today's salsa world.
As an actor I really can't say that I have seen him act but as a Puertorican I am sure it's an honor for him to be chosen to be in a film about a legendary salsa artist. I just hope it turns out to be a good movie. The potential is there. On this note I must go....y hoy te dedico mis mejores pregones.
All for now.
(I will review the website you referenced. Gracias)
Last edited by Marianopolita; 01-30-2006 at 03:24 PM.
Gracias por dedicarme tus mejores pregones!! actually justafter I wrote my statement comparing Blades and Lavoe, I felt like retracting it or at least modifying. I shouldnt say one is better, because each had their individual contribution, equally valid, so I would simply say that Lavoe has always had a huge following for charismatic reasons, he is salsa's poete maudite, while Blades is a more sober restrainted sort, so I always feel that I have to remind people that his collaboration with Willie Colon was as significant. I cannot honestly say I do like his work "better" in the usual sense, since I listen to both equally, but there are qualities there which I think exemplify the best aspects of salsa, one of which is the use of pregones. Plus he is a great story teller music wise.
But then, let's hear it for T. Curet Alonso while we are at it. Marvelous!
My introduction to salsa started the moment I heard a very skinny guy, named Hector Lavoe, sing a salsa song. From that moment on, I was addicted to not only salsa, but also to anything that Hector sang.
I listened to EVERYTHING he recorded. The man had a voice and a half.
Whenever he was appearing at the Old Teatro Rio Piedras, Casa Borinquen and Casa Broadway in Brooklyn, Miguel was there. I was a very young back then but to me, Lavoe was more than a singer, he was a artist.
I didn't even cared if he was late most of time. It was more than worth it.
Up to this date, IMO, there WILL NEVER be another Lavoe. The man not only could sing great salsa, he was also great when singing "jibarito" misic and ballads.
Who can forget when he sang balads like: "Comedia" or "Sombras nada mas" or "Emborrachame de amor" or those great salsa: "Songoro consongo" or "El Todopoderoso" or "Hacha Y machete" or "Mi gente" or " Todo tiene su final" or "Te estan buscando" or "La murga" or "Calle luna, calle sol", amongst many, many other great ones.
Even though Willie Colon and he had a very rocky relationship towards the end, Colon knew that he was dealing with a person that even though had a lot of demons, the man was full of talent.
I remember the day he died. It was like if I had lost a member of my family. I was not afraid to let a few tears drop because the man had given me so much happiness. It feels like it was yesterday.
To me, Hector Lavoe was and will always be, the number one salsa singer of all times.
I HAVE TO listen to Hector when I am listening my favorite genre. If I don't, I feel empty!.
La salsa sin Lavoe...
Macocael: I think you are absolutely correct. Lavoe was 'charismatic' per se most likely on and off stage and that definitely made up for his gaps specific to your comment about "Periódico de ayer". However, my opinion is that, that aspect was so minimal compared to his other talents. He certainly had a unique combination of music skills and passion which all soneros need in order to be successful.
As for Ruben Blades his career has always been dwarfed by other giants like Colón, Lavoe, Miranda etc IMO. Although the talent is there and Pedro Navaja is proof positive of the talent of Blades I agree with you 100% + that he was never recognized for it. I personally am not a Ruben Blades fan. I love Pedro Navaja which I will always remember him for and as well a duet with Willie Colón called "Talento de televisión". Play that salsa at any party and see the reaction. That has to be one the best salsas I have heard that combines a fusion of rhythms. Every time I hear it the genre is clearly salsa but with strong hints of charanga and some other Caribbean rhythms.
Before Lavoe passed away he had an unfinished album called Soy la voz which was completed by another artist- Van Lester who I think did a fine job and the album is very good IMO. If Lavoe had completed it I think it would have given way to a new style that Lavoe would have contributed to the salsa world but I guess it was not meant to be.
In my opinion Héctor Lavoe is "el cantante de los cantantes" and only few will walk the same path as Lavoe. Many of the names have already been mentioned in this thread.
Miguel: Finally you participate in one of my threads again. Thanks for your input. I know you enjoy salsa and your good taste does not surprise me.Your post evidences that you have the same respect for Lavoe that Macocael and I do and for salsa in general. I think your post is a nice tribute to Lavoe and I could not have said it better myself.
Everything about Lavoe reminds me of Puerto Rico. Some of the songs you named are my favorites as well, in fact let's just list his whole repertoire when I come to think of it. He certainly has a hall of fame collection. I just want to add Juanita Alimaña and La Banda to an already awesome list of songs. Héctor Lavoe is one of my musical inspirations when it comes to salsa.
¡Arriba Héctor, Borinquen, la isla del encanto!...
Last edited by Marianopolita; 01-30-2006 at 10:33 PM.
I am very passionate about "my music". I basically like all types of music (well, except for bachatas from bachateros and rap). One day I can listen to Bach's "Konszert fur violine, Streicher u. Basso continuo E-dur" and Mantovani's "Cavatina" and Joan Baez's "Play me backwards" and Pavaroti's "Amor ti vieta" and Cat Stevens' "On the road to find out" and in between them, I have to listen to some Salsas.
Originally Posted by Lesley D
There are many, many salsa singers that I believe are great but none are even close to Hector. I mean, there a so many talents and just to know that, in my book, the man was on a class by himself.
Oh, those late '70's. Oh, those early '80's. I don't think that there is a TRUE salsa lover that can not remember El Gran Combo (still alive and well and making hits) and Andy Montanez Con La Dimension Latina and La Sonora Poncena and Ismael Miranda and Pete "El Conde" Rodriguez and Ruben Blades' "plastico" and Willie Colon's "Gitana" and all those Celia Cruz's hits with that great Dominican "maestro", Johnny Pacheco and Cheo Feliciano and Tito Nieves and many, many others.
I was so lucky to see all these people perform live. I was in my teens and I remember my aunt and sister putting "lifts" in my shoes in order to be able to go inside the clubs. I remember that when that did not work, I used to pay an adult to let me go in with them. Man, those were fun times.
To make this thread a little bit Dominican, I must say that my all-time salsa singer from the DR, hands down, it's no other than Henry Garcia. What a voice on that guy. Amazing!. What a shame that he was not "grabbed" by a Willie Colon and wasted to many years playing second bananas to Cuco Valoy.
Do you guys remember when Lavoe tried to kill himself after finding out that he was sick?.
Btw, to this day, I can not listen to Lavoe's last recording. There are instances, on that cd, that he and the other members are talking and making jokes and I just could not take it when he, in the middle of laughling, he would start to cough very heavily. To me, it represented the beginning of the end.
Many still believe that he used to do drugs for the heck of it. Not many know of the demons that he was fighting from an early age. Starting with his father dishonoring (?) him after he said that he wanted to leave Puerto Rico to go to NY.
Btw, since we are "talking" about Hector, I am listening to one of his Cd's. Nothing better than listening to the ballads: "Un amor de la calle" and "De ti depende" and the salsas: "Mi gente" and "Pirana" and "Triste y vacia" and "La murga" and his jibarito song dedicated to Chuito "Que bien te ves".
Like he would say in one one his songs, "Pirana", which I think is so funny:
"Que lo que pasa que el piso no arranca. Mujer sin grasa, sin tranmision, sin gasolina, sin aceite y sin motor. Esta ma' enjuananga, vendito. Para que sufra"....
Last edited by miguel; 01-30-2006 at 11:44 PM.
All I can say to you is "que viva Lavoe". You definitely enjoy his music as much as I do and I can see that you consider him an inspiration. We are on the same page.
You mentioned DR related. Well I started the discussion because the Spanish forum is rich in language related threads, vocabulary, grammar etc but it's important to have some cultural aspects too. Having said that Spanish is not only a language spoken in the DR and Latin America but when discussing Spanish cultural components such as food, music, dance, literature, art etc. all tie in.
This is a Spanish film that has the potential to be a good tribute to a renowned artist therefore I wanted to give it some exposure and also add some 'sabor' to the forum. BTW I am adding this piece just as a general comment (not directed at you) to ensure that the discussion stays on course. I would like comments about the film, Lavoe and salsa only.
No quiero tener una discusión sobre los otros géneros sobre todo la bachata.
.... y para qué leer un periódico de ayer.
I hear you.
Originally Posted by Lesley D
The only thing that worries me about this movie is that Jennifer Lopez is in it. I say this because it seems that every single time she is involved with the main character in real life, the movie goes straight down the toilet.
If many people would just just pass her and if the writers did their work 110%, a whole new generation will see the life and works of a true salsa genius. I also hope that they are sensitive when "explaining" the demons that he had to fight that let him to the horrible drug abuse path.
Also, I hope that Marc Anthony do a good job. The only thing that they have in common is the fact that he is very skinny. Other than that, Marc does not have the charisma or the personality that Hector had.
I must ask you, did you write that after the movie ends it filming in Puerto Rico, that the movie will me released to DVD?. You mean straight to DVD?.
If you did, I really do believe that it will be release to theaters first. Marc Anthony has been wanting to play Lavoe for a very long time and I don't think that he would make a movie about one of his idols to just have it go straight to DVD. Besides, it does not look good for the "Diva's"(Lopez) career.
Also, I know that they were filming in NYC, I guess that maybe they will finish filming it in PR.
Btw, my only reference to "being DR related" was because you know how sensitive "the boss" is when it comes to topics not related to the DR, even in this forum.
Ps: I wonder who will play Celia... AZUCAR!.
I am glad you asked about the completion of the film and my point about it being on DVD. After I read what I wrote I figured it may be ambiguous. Just to clarify what I meant was it would be in theatres and then eventually on DVD (I suppose) as is the fate of most films. Realistically that's the only way I would probably see it or I would have to be in PR, DR or NYC. There's no doubt in my mind that the film will be shown in those places that I listed. Last night I was reading one of the PR newspapers to get more details about the movie but they did not give a release date. I will keep following up though.
I agree with you regarding J. Lo. Let's hope that she plays a minor role. I am hoping the film would be more of a documentary than a movie. What I mean is once they portray the important aspects of Lavoe's life and his desire to go to NYC etc once there I am hoping the film will be an exposé of music more than anything else. That way if the actors- Miranda, M. Anthony and J Lo are not up to standard it will not take away from the memory of Lavoe's music and his contribution to salsa.
Overall, I would like to see more Spanish films produced about historical Latin music because it's an area that's so culture rich. Salsa which is a genre that has so many branches, more films and documentaries would be a wonderful tribute to the essence of Latin music as a whole and not to mention it would give those who are unaware a better understanding of salsa music. It is definitely not an overnight genre by any stretch of the imagination and so many other rhythms have been fusioned with salsa to create authentic Latin rhythms. ie. guaracha and guaguancó which are both branches of Cuban son/salsa.
Edited to add this link from a PR newspaper about the film that I just read. There are actually two movies being produced. The release of the Miranda, M. Anthony & J Lo film is scheduled for October.
Last edited by Marianopolita; 01-31-2006 at 10:17 PM.
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