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THE LATIN BEAT: The Rhythms and Roots of Latin Music from Bossa Nova to Salsa and Beyond

Ed Morales, Author . Da Capo $16.95 (400p) ISBN 978-0-306-81018-3

New York–based music and cultural critic Morales (Living in Spanglish ) has written one of the best short histories of Latin American music since the 1979 classic The Latin Tinge by John Storm Roberts. Displaying an incredible depth of historical and musical knowledge and insight, this book will be a joy to read both for those already steeped in the Latin musical tradition as well as for those recently introduced to the music of, for instance, Tito Puente. Morales not only illuminates how the roots of Latin music grew from a hybrid of European and African influences, but definitively explains how various forms of the music mutated again once they became part of the American pop scene. Chapters on "The Evolution of Cuban Music into Salsa" and "The Story of Nuyorican Salsa" capture the excitement of Afro-Cuban innovators from the Lopez Brothers in the 1940s to the "renaissance salsero" Gilberto Santa Rosa in the '90s. Other chapters deftly explore the intricacies of the musical traditions of Brazil, the Latin ballad from the bolero to the "New Latin Pop" of singers like Ricky Martin, Latin jazz and contemporary Cuban music, including an illuminating section on the popular "Buena Vista Social Club" CD. Morales also focuses on other African-influenced music from the Dominican Republic, Colombia and Mexico, exploring various and fascinating current multicultural musical developments, such as the way that the "psychedelic, art-rock pose" of Caifanes differs from "dark, rhythm-driven" sound of the group Maldita Vecindad, making them "the Rolling Stones, to Caifanes's Beatles." (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 10/27/2003
Release date: 11/01/2003
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