Victor Hugo,
Tropical Gangster: Salsa From Venezuela
(ARC, 2010)

Salsa ("sauce" in Spanish) is a dance-oriented music with roots in Cuba. The late, great Celia Cruz is refuted to have said "salsa" is just another name for Cuban music.

Salsa originated in Cuba in the 1920s and has since evolved into a number of regional variations, the most popular in this country being the Casino or Miami-style dances brought to Florida by Cuban migrants in the 1960s; the LA-style, influenced by the mamba and tango; and the New York-style, first popularized by Eddie Torres.

Victor Hugo plays South American-style salsa, and his CD Tropical Gangster: Salsa From Venezuela features some prime examples, along with three merengues. This band performs with passion, and Hugo's vocals are good. I especially like the first three tracks: "Salsa Donde Estabas," "Havanera" and "Viva La Salsa." If you enjoy Latin rhythms, you'll find little to complain about with this album.

A native of Venezuela, Victor Hugo is among the pioneers of Latin music in Europe. His music has worldwide radio play and his compositions have been featured in film and advertising. With the increasing popularity of salsa and other Latin musical styles, his name is bound to become more familiar to audiences here.

music review by
John R. Lindermuth

23 April 2011

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