“We thank you for letting us share our music with you,” says arranger Oscar Hernández as he introduces the band on the opening track of this CD. And the music you hear is not the watered-down form of salsa favored by DJs today — instead, this is straightforward NYC salsa dura, which is the “harder” form of the genre, with a more aggressive approach, incorporating several other musical influences, such as samba, R&B and jazz.
On several tracks, the group looks back into the history of the genre — ‘En El Tiempo del Palladium’ (The Days of The Palladium) pays tribute to the former temple of the 50s mambo of Tito Puente and Celia Cruz, and a new arrangement to the Fania-era ‘Sacala Bailar’ (Take Her Dancing) is refreshing and respectful. Closing the disc is a fun bilingual version of Paul Simon’s ‘Late in Evening’ that features the writer himself trading vocals with the ensemble’s singers. This is a record for serious fans of Afro-Cuban music, but it might also be a swell introduction to newbies.