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The first song I heard by Pablo Milanés was “Eternamente Yolanda” performed by the Puerto Rican “nueva trova” group Haciendo Punto en Otro Son. It was because of that song that I decided to buy that record. I originally thought the song was written by one of its members. But then I learned that the […] The post Eternally Pablo appeared first on Latino Music...
The first song I heard by Pablo Milanés was “Eternamente Yolanda” performed by the Puerto Rican “nueva trova” group Haciendo Punto en Otro Son.
It was because of that song that I decided to buy that record. I originally thought the song was written by one of its members. But then I learned that the composer was a Cuban from the Cuban musical movement “nueva trova” named Pablo Milanés.
That’s how my curiosity for the music of this singer-songwriter began. What other beautiful songs would he have in his discography?
The songs of Pablo Milanés are so beautiful that the Salsa artists couldn’t do without performing them. So many were recorded that someone had the idea of compiling some of them in an album, which they called “Pablo Milanés…además la Salsa“.
The album includes versions of:
Te Quiero Porque Te Quiero – El Gran Combo
El Tiempo, El Implacable, El Que Pasó – The Sonora Ponceña
Comienzo y Final de una Verde Mañana – Gilberto Santa Rosa
El Breve Espacio En que No Está – Mario Ortiz
Ya Ves – La Sonora Ponceña
Años – El Gran Combo
Cuando Lejos Estás Inalcanzable – Issac Delgado
Son Para Un Festival – Roberto Roena
Cuando Te Enamore – Tony Vega
Quiero Ser De Nuevo el Que Te Amó – La Sonora Ponceña
Son de Cuba to Puerto Rico – Issac Delgado
Puerto Rican salsa artist Andy Montañez also recorded an album with Pablo titled “AM/PM; Líneas Paralelas”, after their respective name initials. A very good album in which Pablo shows that he is very good at Salsa.
Today we mourn the departure of this talented Cuban singer-songwriter, who was a poet of the song.
In these times when the reguetoneros talk about“te voy a coger #$%” and“te voy a hacer &^%$“, I’m going to miss poets of songs like Pablo Milanés, who used to tell us…
“When I saw you I knew it was true
This fear of finding myself uncovered
You undress me with seven reasons
You open my chest whenever you fill me up
Eternally of love
If I ever feel defeated
I give up seeing the sun every morning
Praying the creed you have taught me
I look at your face and say at the window
Ismael Miranda finished the ’80s with four Christmas albums (Part 3) and starts the ’90s by jumping into the Salsa Romántica craze. He extends that romanticism into a series of Bolero albums with Andy Montañez and finishes the decade with other collaborations. Ismael Miranda Jumps into Salsa Romántica The new decade brings a new focus […] The post Ismael Miranda Music Legend Part 4: the ’90s appeared first on Latino Music...
Ismael Miranda finished the ’80s with four Christmas albums (Part 3) and starts the ’90s by jumping into the Salsa Romántica craze. He extends that romanticism into a series of Bolero albums with Andy Montañez and finishes the decade with other collaborations.
The new decade brings a new focus for Ismael Miranda. He decides to go back to recording Salsa and finds that Salsa Romántica is dominating the fans’ preference. Therefore, Ismael focuses the first half of the 90s on launching four albums of Salsa Romántica.
“Hasta la Ultima Gota” (1991), “Entre Sombras” (1992), “Enamorado de Ti” (1993), and “El Sabor de Puerto Rico” (1994) all had songs that were briefly played on radio stations, but none really stuck enough to become a big hit.
This cold reception to his Salsa Romántica was a malady that affected the Salseros of Ismael’s old-school generation. El Gran Combo released several albums on this style of salsa, with only a handful of memorable songs. Andy Montañez, like Ismael an old-school salsa and bolero singer, seemed to have found some success in Salsa Romántica.
With the relatively cold reception to his Salsa Romántica, Ismael decided to go entirely romantic by recording an album of Boleros, a genre he has successfully cultivated since his years with Harlow. A collaboration with someone with a low-pitch voice to contrast his high-pitch one, that is a proven bolero singer, that comes from the old-school salsa generation like him, and that has some success in Salsa Romántica would be an ideal combination.
That’s how in 1996 El Niño Bonito and El Niño de Tras Talleres joined forces in “Al Son del Bolero“. With Andy Montañez, and using a guitar trio (Alpha Cuatro) rather than a band for the music, Ismael found overwhelming success.
Requests for Ismael and Andy’s live presentations rained like a stationary tropical depression. And with that amount of success, a sequel album was a must.
If the first bolero collaboration album was good, the second was even better, like the Godfather movies. “Románticos de Nuevo” was released the following year to another great reception by the fans of these two great Puerto Rican singers.
The success of the album and the requests for live presentations continued to pour in. And so, a third album, “Con Alma de Niño” was released in 1998. This one also enjoyed good acceptance by music fans, but perhaps not as much as the two previous recordings. After a 3 to 4-year run with boleros, Ismael was ready to offer fans something new.
In 1999 the focus in Puerto Rico was around the protests in Vieques so the US Navy would stop using the island-municipality as a target practice. In April of that year, a Puerto Rican security guard in his post was killed during one of these practices. Puerto Rican joined in mass to say, enough!
With that in the air, Ismael joined folk music singer Andrés Jiménez “El Jíbaro” in the album “Son de Vieques” released later in 1999. The music was a combination of Puerto Rican folk music (mostly “seis chorreao“) with some Salsa to emphasize our nationalism and support for Vieques.
The collaboration with Andrés Jiménez was not the first with a Puerto Rican folk singer. A couple of years earlier Ismael joined forces with Nano Cabrera in “Con Buena Nota” (1997).
And a couple of years before that Ismael recorded “Cantar o No Cantar” (1995) with Junior González. This made it the reunion of two ex-Orchestra Harlow singers.
The approaching new millennium gave Ismael an opportunity to rethink his career strategy. We’ll discuss his new approach for his next recordings in the final chapter of this series on Ismael Miranda.
As this week Puerto Rico commemorates its “discovery” by Columbus (November 19) in 1493, our folk rhythm of “Plena” is still going strong over a century after its origin. Note: this blog was originally published in 2010, when this rhythm celebrated its 105 anniversary. Origins of Puerto Rican “Plena” “La plena que yo te canto […] The post Puerto Rican Plena Still Strong appeared first on Latino Music...
As this week Puerto Rico commemorates its “discovery” by Columbus (November 19) in 1493, our folk rhythm of “Plena” is still going strong over a century after its origin.
Note: this blog was originally published in 2010, when this rhythm celebrated its 105 anniversary.
“La plena que yo te canto no es de la China ni del Japón;
porque la Plena viene de Ponce,
viene del barrio de San Antón”.
There’s a misconception that Bomba and Plena originated together. The fact is that Bomba originated much earlier, sometime in the mid-18th century, while we know that Plena was born in the early 19th century.
The exact origin of this Puerto Rican rhythm is hard to pinpoint, but most experts agree it was born around the year 1905 in the now non-existent slum of “La Joya del Castillo” (The Jewel of the Castle) in the city of Ponce.
Although this music was popularized in Ponce’s “Barrio San Antón“, it was in “La Joya del Castillo” where a couple immigrating from the Virgin Islands brought with them a “pandereta” (hand drum) and a guitar, with which they would play music with a rhythm and cadence that would excite the listeners and make them want to move to the beat of the music.
This rhythm would evolve to what eventually was called Plena, according to Felix Echevarría Alvarado, in his book titled “La Plena; Origen, Sentido, y Desarrollo en el Folklore Puertorriqueño”. This couple, which the locals nicknamed “los Ingleses” (The Englishmen), was formed by John Clark and Catherine George (a.k.a. Doña Catín).
Like so many other music genres, including American Jazz and Argentine Tango, this Puerto Rican rhythm was born in a very poor part of Ponce. Additionally, its formation and early songs expressed the experiences of those living around the “happy life” in a Puerto Rico slum. Songs like “Cortaron a Elena“, about a real incident that happened to a woman identified as Elena Sanchez, and “Ven Dale Ahora, Charlatán“, are examples of this type of experience.
By World War I (1917), it had become a popular form of music all around Puerto Rico, particularly in the coastal areas. The cities of Mayagüez and Loiza had such a strong adoption, that some had claimed the rhythm originated in these places.
Note: To learn more about the history of these rhythms, check our series “Renaissance of Bomba & Plena“.
Banco Popular de Puerto Rico put together a great special on Bomba and Plena called “Raíces” (2001). Below I’m sharing a clip from that special, which highlights in just a few minutes the main aspects of Puerto Rican Plena. It details some information on its origins, how it’s conceived, and the instrumentation. In the second half of the clip, it transitions to talk about Bomba.
Ismael Miranda has many reasons to feel better today after the “Puerto Rico Saluda a Ismael Miranda” concert. Although still recovering from his 2021 stroke, Ismael enjoyed a concert where various Salsa and pop music stars paid homage to him in a memorable evening. Puerto Rico Salutes Ismael Miranda The homage concert “Puerto Rico Saluda […] The post Puerto Rico Homage to Ismael Miranda Concert appeared first on Latino Music...
Ismael Miranda has many reasons to feel better today after the “Puerto Rico Saluda a Ismael Miranda” concert. Although still recovering from his 2021 stroke, Ismael enjoyed a concert where various Salsa and pop music stars paid homage to him in a memorable evening.
The homage concert “Puerto Rico Saluda a Ismael Miranda” (Puerto Rico Salutes Ismael Miranda) was organized by Puerto Rican salsa star Gilberto Santa Rosa. It included the participation of Tito Nieves, José Alberto “El Canario”, Tony Vega, Andy Montañez, Jerry Rivas, Danny Rivera, Chucho Avellanet, Jerry Rivera, Juan José Hernández, Domingo Quiñones, Alex D’Castro, and reggaetonero Vico C. It also had the participation of longtime Ismael Miranda collaborator Nelson González on the “tres” guitar.
The band that backed up these excellent singers was led by the talented pianist, singer, and arranger Carlos García. Many recognize Carlos from his performances in Norberto Velez’s “Sesiones Desde la Loma“. So it’s not a surprise that several of the concert band musicians were from the “Sesiones” band; all very talented musicians.
The challenge for Gilberto Santa Rosa was to get enough performing time for this constellation of stars. With a 2-hour concert window, Gilberto was able to get all of them to perform a song by not going too long in any of them.
The common theme among the performers was the admiration and love they have for Ismael Miranda. The concert attendees shared this admiration and love.
The performances were heartfelt and produced many memorable moments. Crooner Chucho Avellanet got the standing ovation of the night for his performance of “La Cama Vacía“.
Victor Manuelle followed Chucho with one of the best Salsa performances of the night in “Pa Bravo Yo“. The song, which was written by Ismael Miranda but performed and made popular by Justo Betancourt, provided “el Sonero de la Juventud” with improvisation opportunities, like when Chucho was taking his seat in the front and Victor sang the best “soneo” of the concert…”ahora viene a sentarse Chucho, después que el show se robó“, which rhymes with the chorus of the song.
Rubén Blades couldn’t be there but delivered a beautiful video message shown on the big screen. He talked about how Ismael was one of the first ones to record his songs when he was still trying to make a name for himself in Fania.
Tito Nieves also made the most of “María Luisa“, which included a new chorus that got the people singing and Tito providing great soneos.
Another great performance was that of José Alberto “El Canario” on “Que Sera lo Que Pelean“.
The final song was the Fania All-Stars classic “Quítate Tu” where all the singers took the stage to do one more “soneo” to express their admiration for Ismael Miranda.
The concert’s cherry on top was Ismael’s surprise singing in “Borinquen Tiene Montuno“. After “Quítate Tu” Ismael went up to the stage to what everyone expected would be a short thank you message. The band started playing “Borinquen Tiene Montuno” and Ismael didn’t think it twice to start singing. The crowd went crazy! The performers on stage were equally surprised, as you can see in the video shared above.
[Note: for more on Ismael Miranda, see our “Ismael Miranda Music Legend” series for a detailed journey of his career.]
It certainly provides hope to all in the concert hall that Ismael Miranda will continue to get better and perhaps, with God’s blessing, we’ll see him performing again in the not-so-far future.
After a strong finish to his first decade as a solo artist (as we covered in Part 2), Ismael Miranda continued producing good Salsa albums towards the end of the Fania Records era. He even resurrected the Orquesta Revelación. But as the 80s progressed, Ismael would try his hand at Puerto Rican Christmas music and […] The post Ismael Miranda Music Legend Part 3; 2nd Decade Solo appeared first on Latino Music...
After a strong finish to his first decade as a solo artist (as we covered in Part 2), Ismael Miranda continued producing good Salsa albums towards the end of the Fania Records era. He even resurrected the Orquesta Revelación. But as the 80s progressed, Ismael would try his hand at Puerto Rican Christmas music and at the new Salsa Romántica.
Let’s explore how that worked out during his second decade as a solo artist.
Ismael Miranda began his second decade as a solo artist in the early ’80s with “The Master” (1983). Ismael produced a good album, with good musicians and good songs. Two songs were written by Tite Curet Alonso, one by Chiquitín García, and two by himself.
But despite the good production, the album was quickly forgettable. So for his next album, Ismael went back to another good collaboration, this time with the timeless Sonora Matancera.
“La Sonora Matancera & Ismael Miranda” (1984) was a well-produced album by the legendary Cuban band with Ismael as a guest artist. A couple of songs received good radio airplay, which helped to keep Ismael in the Salsa hit charts.
For his next solo project, which would turn out to be his last with the Fania label as it began to disintegrate, Ismael decided to go back to his origins to bring back the Orquesta Revelación with Nelson Gonzalez. They teamed up to produce two albums. One for Ismael Miranda and one for Nelson Gonzalez and the Orquesta Revelación.
Besides Nelson, the revival of the Revelación didn’t include any other members of that original 1973 band. However, just like a decade earlier, the Orquesta Revelación had some good up-and-coming young musicians, which included Alex D’Castro in the chorus and Wilfredo “Freddy” Rivera on bass, who would later go on to join El Gran Combo.
The album of Nelson Gonzalez y Orquesta Revelación, “Feliz y Contento” (1984), was the first of the two albums to come out. It was produced and directed by Ismael Miranda, but with Alex D’Castro on vocals. Ismael even wrote one of the songs.
Ismael’s “Una Nueva Visión” (1985) followed a year later. This was another well-produced album by Ismael Miranda and with better results than his previous two solo recordings. Ismael wrote one song, Johnny Ortiz another, and Tite Curet Alonso contributed four songs, including a sequel to Galera 3, and co-wrote a fifth one.
Guest musicians included Amuni Nacer (synthesizer), Jan Duclerc (trumpet), Giovanni Hidalgo (percussion), and Antonio “Toño” Rivera (trombone); all young and future stars.
With La Sonora Matancera and “Una Nueva Visión“, Ismael Miranda kept his place as a top Salsa performer. But another collaboration opportunity made him change the course and style of his next recordings.
Around 1986, José Nogueras knocked on Ismael’s door with the idea of a collaboration on a Christmas album project. The album, “Versos de Nuestra Cultura” became a huge hit, and almost all the songs continue to be played on the radio every Christmas season since its release. Among the close to 40 Christmas albums that José Nogueras has recorded up to this date, “Versos de Nuestra Cultura” remains at the top of my favorite Christmas albums.
The experience and exposure were so good for Ismael, that he decided to record three more Christmas albums of his own. These were all recorded in consecutive years, starting with “Motivos de Mi Tierra” (1987; along with the Salsa album “Por el Buen Camino“), then “Felicitándote” (1988), and finally “La Mano Maestra” (1989). This latter one was re-released with new cover art and much better results in 2012.
As Ismael focused the second half of the 1980s on Christmas recordings, he began to consider doing something different in the ’90s.
The new decade of the ’90s gave Ismael Miranda a motive to change the focus of his recordings. He returned to recording Salsa music but found that the craze of Salsa Romántica had taken over the preference of Salsa fans.
Therefore, his next four albums were in that new Salsa trend. But like many of his Salsa contemporaries that found success in the golden era of the 70s and early 80s, he finds it difficult to find success in this new craze, known as “Salsa monga” by fans of the hardcore Salsa, who are equally evasive of these new recordings.
So how does Ismael adjusts and navigates the rest of the 90s? That will be the focus of the next part of this series.
The post Ismael Miranda Music Legend Part 3; 2nd Decade Solo appeared first on Latino Music Cafe.
The solo career of Ismael Miranda began incredibly well. His first three solo albums were so good and became so popular that they marked the rest of his career. The impact of these albums was such that when in 2001 Ismael Miranda recorded a “Live” album, 8 of the 13 songs were from those first […] The post Ismael Miranda Music Legend Part 2; Early Solo Career appeared first on Latino Music...
The solo career of Ismael Miranda began incredibly well. His first three solo albums were so good and became so popular that they marked the rest of his career.
The impact of these albums was such that when in 2001 Ismael Miranda recorded a “Live” album, 8 of the 13 songs were from those first three solo albums.
One interesting fact about Ismael Miranda’s solo career is the consistency of his recordings. Despite the Salsa industry’s ups and downs, Ismael was very consistent with his recordings. In the 41 years from his first solo album (1973) until his most recent (2014), he recorded about 33 albums, publishing almost the same number during the first 20 years as in the last 21 years.
When Ismael Miranda decided to go solo, he formed his band right there in New York City which he called Orquesta Revelación. He was able to attract some of the best up-and-rising young musicians of the time. These included Frankie Rodriguez (congas), Nicky Marrero (timbales), Nelson Gonzalez (tres & coro), and Oscar Hernandez (piano).
In my opinion, the first album of Ismael Miranda’s solo career with the Orquesta Revelación has been the best of his entire illustrious career. “Así Se Compone un Son” (1973) was a Salsa mega-hit right in the middle of the Golden Age of Salsa. All 10 songs in the album were good songs and all eventually became hits, including a merengue and two boleros. This speaks to the versatility of Ismael as a singer.
Oscar Hernandez, the pianist of Orquesta Revelación, tells Latino Music Café in this interview clip about this time with Ismael Miranda.
Another member of the Orquesta Revelación, tres player Nelson Gonzalez, tells Latino Music Café in this interview audio clip about this time with Ismael Miranda.
As Oscar and Nelson mentioned, Orquesta Revelación didn’t last long, and Ismael Miranda, who had already recorded his second album but had not launched it, relocated to Puerto Rico.
That 2nd album was “En Fa Menor” (1974), another great recording. This was the only Ismael Miranda album of these three that didn’t provide credits for the musicians, verifying Nelson’s comment. Just like in “Así Se Compone un Son“, all eight songs became hits, including the two boleros.
Salsa fans couldn’t wait for Ismael’s next album, which he titled “Este es Ismael Miranda” (1975). Here again, was another strong album where most (not all) of the songs were hits. But the ones that became hits were massive hits.
The first single was “La Cosa No es Como Antes” (written by Ismael), but then came “Maria Luisa” and Rubén Blades’ “Cipriano Armenteros“. His rendition of the bolero “La Copa Rota“, popularized by Felipe Rodriguez in the ’50s, was also a hit.
There are a couple of notes worth making about this trio of great Salsa albums. Ismael Miranda wrote the title songs for each of these albums, besides writing about two or three songs per album. “Así Se Compone un Son“, “Borinquen Tiene Montuno“, and “La Cosa No es Como Antes” were the first singles of their respective albums and all were written by Ismael. But let me point out that Ismael has been writing songs since his days with Orchestra Harlow. He rarely gets much credit for songwriting.
Another important note is that his boleros became hits. Again, Ismael had been singing boleros since the Harlow days, but the boleros in these three albums really solidified him as a great singer in that genre.
The following albums continued to produce Salsa hits. And although they were good recordings, holistically they were not the great albums the first three were.
Perhaps there’s one exception that I included in this group. The album “Con Mi Viejo Amigo” (1976) was a reunion with Larry Harlow and his Orchestra Harlow.
This is an excellent album where both Ismael Miranda and the Orchestra Harlow had matured nicely to be at the top of their game. The songs were good, and again, Ismael wrote one of the album’s biggest hits, “Venceré“. The title song “Con Mi Viejo Amigo” was written by the master of customizing songs for artists, Tite Curet Alonso, and Rubén Blades contributed with two songs; “Señor Botánico“, and “No Hay Chance“.
With the string of hits from the previous four albums, Salsa fans couldn’t wait for Ismael’s next solo project. That turned out to be “No Voy al Festival” (1977). The album’s main hit was a Wilkins song converted to Salsa with Puerto Rican bomba rhythm; “Como Mi Pueblo“. Several other songs were played on the radio, but none produced a solid hit. The title song “No Voy al Festival” came and went without much notice, as did Rubén Blades’ “Vuelve Cipriano” (the sequel to “Cipriano Armenteros“).
“Sabor, Sentimiento, y Pueblo” (1978) followed the same fate as “No Voy al Festival“. This album had several solid Salsa songs, and perhaps should’ve had a stronger showing and support from Salsa fans, but for whatever reason, it didn’t. Most Ismael Miranda fans would have a hard time remembering this album ever existed. The most memorable song from the album turned out to be the bolero “Me Voy Ahora“.
After the last two lackluster albums, Ismael Miranda took a break to regroup before venturing into his next solo project. In the meantime, another collaboration opportunity emerged.
Ismael teamed with Willie Colón, who had produced a string of hits with several artists after Héctor Lavoe went solo. Willie not only recorded regularly with Rubén Blades, but also produced and recorded albums with Mon Rivera, Celia Cruz, and a solo one to debut his singing career. With the availability of Ismael Miranda and with four songs written by José Nogueras as a solid foundation, they launched “Doble Energía” (1980).
The album got Ismael Miranda back on the Salsa hit charts. Nogueras’ “No Me Digas Que es Muy Tarde” became a huge Salsa hit. “Mayoral” written by Conjunto Clásico’s Ramón Rodriguez, and “Americano Latino” (also by Nogueras) became hits as well. The rest of the album was relatively good, with Ismael writing “Cartas Marcadas“, which became quite popular. Ismael and Willie shared singing duties in an old jibaro song called “Jibaro Castao“.
For his next solo project, Ismael came back strong piggybacking on the success of “Doble Energía” and having taken three years to produce his next album. The result was the much better-produced “La Clave del Sabor” (1981).
The album was carried by two songs written by the great songwriter Tite Curet Alonso, which to no surprise, became massive Salsa hits. “Galera Tres” was perhaps the biggest hit of this recording, along with “Para Ismael Rivera“.
These songs were supported by “Aunque Me Duela” by Rubén Blades, and “Amigo Déjala” by Ramón Rodriguez. The album has two boleros, including Ismael’s own “Mi Decisión“, and two bombas, one by Chiquitín García and the other by Johnny Ortiz. If you notice, all of these are excellent songwriters.
This was a good album that along with “Doble Energía” re-established Ismael as a prime Fania artist. With it, Ismael had a solid close to his first decade as a solo artist.
The second decade of Ismael Miranda’s solo career saw him continue with solid Salsa recordings with mixed levels of success, his return to the concept of Orquesta Revelación, and his immersion into Christmas albums.
We’ll explore all of those topics in the next part of this blog series.
The post Ismael Miranda Music Legend Part 2; Early Solo Career appeared first on Latino Music Cafe.
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