I am not a salsa lover. Well, that’s not strictly true. In Spanish, salsa is the word for sauce or condiment, which I love, as well as the name of a music genre and dance. I love the kind of salsa that goes on food, I can appreciate some of the music and dance. It has been heavily influenced by Latin jazz, which shares roots with my beloved swing. Because of that (as a negative), it also goes on forever. And here on the Caribbean coast, is generally danced in a closed position, not with a lot of fancy turns and twists like you see on Dancing with the Stars. And so, up to this point, not a one of my Music Monday posts has focused on salsa – despite it being the genre of choice for my host mom and at least half of my friends.
I decided it was finally time, though, so asked a salsero friend what his favorite songs are. Of the list he gave me, half came from a group from Cali called Grupo Niche.
The lyrics are a stark and pleasant contrast to those of champeta and reggaetón. They steal deal largely in relationships, but in contrast to “let’s go to the club and rub on some honeys,” they’re poetry. Songs of love and loss and trying to win that love back. You may also notice, of course, that these songs/videos are not modern.
Grupo Niche was founded in 1978 and has had a revolving group of musicians supporting it. They definitely look and sound like a jazz band by the way they set up. The man in front, the bandleader, is Jairo Varela, who was with the band from its inception to his 2012 death. Smooth, no?