One of my goals for Salsa Legends And Masters Academy, is for it to be a resource where anyone who is interested, can learn about the history and origins of the music we now call Salsa. Although I have been playing it for years, with many great musicians and bands, there’s still so much I don’t know and I’m always thirsting to know more. Hopefully some of you are as well.
I ask a lot of questions when I’m around people who know more than I do and have always done so, whether it’s pertaining to music or anything else I want to learn about. When I heard that Rene Lopez and Benjamin Lapidus were going to be speaking about the history of “El Son”, I made sure to attend. I even brought my mom with me. I suppose I am like her in that she is always in pursuit of knowledge in things that are of interest to her.
The seminar/presentation we attended on September 5th, was part of the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute’s 10th Annual International Latin/Tropical Music Collectors Festival In Collaboration with El Barrio Music Center & Augusto Records, celebrating Salsa, Montuno & Guaguanco, at Taino Towers in NYC. Always a great event. Google it for more info on past events. Thanks to Rene, Ben and CCCADI for allowing me to video record the presentation, so I could share it with you, the followers of Salsa Legends And Masters Academy.
To my understanding, the the music we know as Salsa, is relatively young in comparison to many other musics from around the world that have been in existence for hundreds or even thousands of years. There are some institutions of higher learning that offer courses on the history, but I honestly don’t know what the qualifications might be for one to be considered “an expert” and qualified to teach on the subject offered by those institutions or the validity of their sources of information. They may be great. I just don’t know.
What I do know is, that many or the veteran musicians that I know and respect, consider Rene Lopez to be and expert on the history of this music. I was told that Rene’s uncle, Catalino Rondon, was instrumental in bringing many of Cuba’s most talented and important musicians, performers and bands to the U.S., years ago.
Rene was always around back then, and got to know those people and the music they played. He’s also was a collector of many old and rare recordings, both on and off market. For many years, he’s travelled often to Cuba and sought out and learned from many respected musicians and bands.
It’s my understanding that Rene was responsible for bringing groups like Los Papines and Los Muñequitos de Matanzas to the U.S.. Additionally, he was one of the main producers of the recordings of Grupo Folklórico Experímental Nuevayorquíno, among other important recordings. That being said, I believe he’s the real deal.
Benjamin Lapidus, the other presenter at the September 5th event also has impressive credentials. I will elaborate more on him and share his presentation in the next post. Their combined presentation was pretty long, i split it into 2 separate posts. I’ll be sharing part 2 soon.
Enjoy this video, part 1 of 2, please share it and feel free to comment. Thanks.
By Pete Nater