Connect with us

Book Reviews

¡Fuera Zapato Viejo!



Fuera Zapato Viejo

Chronicles, Portraits and Interviews about Salsa Music in Bogotá –

Many people, including some music lovers, assume that the city of Cali and the Caribbean and Pacific coasts were the places where Colombian salsa music composers and singers created their work, but this book shows us the other story about how the salsa music phenomenon took place in Colombia. Forty years ago, Bogota was the place that hosted some musicians who would become the most prominent Colombian salsa music stars. Their wish to show their talent and commitment to music in the capital was the motivating force that drove them, despite the hard times and sacrifice experienced in the “cold” and big Bogotá.

Fuera Zapato Viejo Portada¡Fuera zapato viejo! is a selection of chronicles and interviews with Colombian musicians, composers, dancers, writers, journalists, collectors and music lovers who have made salsa music their passion. Coordinated by the prestigious editor Mario Jursich, this book shares an exciting and profound part of the history of talented Colombian musicians that one day decided to try their luck at composing and playing “salsa” in Bogotá.

If I take the risk of translating the suggestive title of this book I would say: “Off with the Old Shoe”. Indeed ¡Fuera zapato viejo! was a statement shouted out by the Puerto Rican salsa legend Ismael Rivera when he sang. This is the perfect expression to speak out and purify body and soul when the listener is dancing. The chosen title could not be better because it is a beautiful word game that expresses, in a metaphorical way, the changes produced in people´s life when salsa started to be played in Bogotá.

It was the fifties when two incredible orchestras (Lucho Bermúdez and Pacho Galán´s) had come to the capital to awaken the interests of the classic people of Bogotá. These shows were the first seeds sown in the heart of capital city inhabitants who wanted to know more about the syncopated culture coming from the coast.

It was only until the seventies when composers and musicians settled in Bogotá and started to make the city more enjoyable, by playing in several clubs. The boom of Colombian salsa musicians had started. This boom was the water for those seeds sown before and the seventies was the perfect scenario for a marvelous flowering of creativity around drums, piano, trumpets, bass guitar and maracas. ¡Fuera zapato viejo! means a change, an awakening, it means a shake-off of the inhabitants who learned, through music, about a different culture in the same country; the Caribbean and Pacific culture. The Caribbean and Pacific music gave the people of Bogotá a new perspective on life, a different way to interact with others, a reason to change certain habits and enjoy life in another way. ¡Fuera zapato viejo! is a poetic way to think about leaving some things behind and being open to enjoying different cultural exchanges.

For many years, the typical dance of the society of the Colombian capital was the “rumba criolla”, a slow dance based on the European contradance, which implies no physical contact between couples. When musicians played music from the coast, the imagination of the people in Bogotá began to change and the rules of partying gradually shifted. Their hearts were touched by the sounds coming from the beaches and emotion and rhythm moved faster through their veins. The encounter with the syncopated music opened their minds and they began to understand that they could express and share the most profound feelings through dance.

For those lovers of music history, this book is a gem, a tremendous publishing project produced by IDARTES (District Institute for Arts), Instituto Distrital de Patrimonio Cultural (District Institute for Cultural Heritage) and Malpensante Magazine. This compilation has chronicles about musicians and composers, features about music lovers who contribute to Colombian salsa music, articles about legendary clubs and rumba places, detailed reviews about the salsa festivals and more than 400 photos (many of them unpublished).

Fuera Zapato Viejo 2

The book itself is very well planned; it is comprised of five sections accompanied by valuable and impeccable pictures recovered or collected by different photographers, journalists, writers and collectors. The first section is called “Una orquesta imaginaria” (An Imaginary Orchestra) which tells the story of eleven musical projects including Aristarco Perea Copete (better known as Arista), Washington Cabezas, Joe Madrid, Jairo Varela, and Bertha Quintero´s among others. Gente pa´gozar (People to Enjoy) is the name of the second section of this huge publication: a compilation of twelve chronicles and interviews with people who contribute to keep salsa music alive including Senet Mosquera, Hernando Tovar (founders of salsa clubs), Cesar Pagano, Antonio Morales (journalists), Jesús María Solarte, Luis Cardona (dancing legends), Roberto Rubiano, José Arteaga (writers) just to mention a few. The third section is dedicated to the fascinating story of Colombian collectors of salsa like Alfonso Martínez, Andrés Solano and Hernando Gómez. The fourth part of ¡Fuera zapato viejo! is a splendid and delightful summary about the most important salsa festival in Colombia, Salsa al Parque Festival, which takes place in Bogotá every year. This year is the sixteenth anniversary of this cultural celebration that unites a rich musical diversity of musicians, dancers, collectors, writers, and music lovers.

As with most modern albums, the coordinators of this book could not leave the reader without a “Bonus track”, the name of the last section. This is the original script written by José Arteaga for a radio show in 1980 when the legendary orchestra Fania visited Colombia for the first time.

When you, as a passionate listener, embark on this fascinating journey, you will not have to flip through many pages before you say “Off with the Old Shoe”.

Hector Lavoe in Cali with the entrepreneur Larry Landa. Photo: Hernando Villareal.

Hector Lavoe in Cali with the entrepreneur Larry Landa. Photo: Hernando Villareal.

Oscar graduated in journalism and education in Colombia, and completed a postgraduate program in Creative Writing in Canada. He works as an English teacher, translator and freelance writer in Bogotá. Oscar is a music collector, explorer and promoter of World Music and Jazz.

Book Reviews

Boricua Jazz: La Historia del Jazz Puertorriqueño



Boricua Jazz - La Historia del Jazz Puertorriqueño - Wilbert Sostre

Desde Rafael Hernández a Miguel Zenón (Second Edition)

In November 2020, author, journalist, educator Wilbert Sostre Maldonado released the second (Spanish) edition of Boricua Jazz: La Historia del Jazz Puertorriqueño · Desde Rafael Hernández a Miguel Zenón (Boricua Jazz: The Story of Puerto Rican Jazz from Rafael Hernández to Miguel Zenón).

Maldonado was introduced to jazz and other genres when he studied music and guitar in high school. The seed for Boricua Jazz was planted in 2005, when he wrote reviews for a variety of publications, including Jazz Times, Jazz Inside Magazine, and Latin Jazz Network, and realized, apart from random biographies there were no publications that contained accurate, credible information about Puerto Rican artists.

Through the use of existing biographical data, interviews, requests for information, books, magazines, articles, websites, and active participation in Puerto Rico’s music scene Maldonado created the First Edition of Boricua Jazz in 2019.

The Second Edition contains updated biographies, discographies, and new photos. Also, it contains a comprehensive index (which the First Edition lacked) and information about artists and groups that participated in the Puerto Rico Heineken Jazz Festival (1991-2017), biographical data, and in most cases, a discography.

Chapter Breakdown

• CHAPTER 1 – Shines a light on jazz in New Orleans (the cradle of jazz), blues, ragtime, black military bands, and Billie Holliday, Buddy Bolden, Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, and Sidney Bechet, among others. The chapter also includes an excellent selection of early jazz recordings (1940-1960).
• CHAPTER 2 – Summarizes the musical forms developing in Puerto Rico during the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. Also, it documents the first encounters between American and Puerto Rican music.
• CHAPTERS 3 & 4 – They focus on Puerto Rican jazz and draws from Basilio Serrano’s groundbreaking book, Puerto Rican Pioneers in Jazz – 1900 -1939 – Bomba Beats to Latin Jazz (iUniverse, 2015), and other publications.
• CHAPTER 5 – Dedicated to the valve trombonist, composer, arranger, crack shot sight-reader, transcriber, and progenitor of Latin jazz, Juan Tizol.
• Chapter 6 – Documents the interactions between jazz and salsa. Also, it highlights the trajectories of Puerto Rican musicians who made significant contributions to jazz on the island and in the States.
• CHAPTER 7 – Pays tribute to the independent organizations (1960-1970) that exposed the island to jazz, such as the San Juan Jazz Workshop, the Don Pedro Jazz Workshop, and the Caribbean Workshop. The more prominent, international festivals such as the Puerto Rico Heineken Jazz Fest would not be possible without these organizations.
• CHAPTER 8 – Focuses on festivals, concerts, and jazz on the island.
• CHAPTER 9 – Proposes the emergence of Bomba Jazz (Afro-Puerto Rican Jazz), which is unique to the island.
• CHAPTER 10 – Brings readers to the present-day and features emerging jazz players who are giving continuity to the history of the Boricua Jazz Masters.

Throughout the book, Maldonado rightly credits the musicians, composers, arrangers, bandleaders, promoters, presenters, educators, universities, websites, radio show hosts, authors, historians, and journalists whose contributions to jazz were critical to its development and popularization on the island.

Boricua Jazz is a primer for readers who are curious about American jazz, Puerto Rican music and culture, and the relationship between the two. On a personal note, it’s an invaluable reference tool. According to Maldonado, an English Edition is in the works.

En Español

En Noviembre 2020, el autor, periodista y educador Wilbert Sostre Maldonado lanzó la segunda edición (en español) de Boricua Jazz: La Historia del Jazz Puertorriqueño · Desde Rafael Hernández a Miguel Zenón (Boricua Jazz: The Story of Puerto Rican Jazz from Rafael Hernández to Miguel Zenón).

Maldonado conoció el jazz y otros géneros cuando estudió música y guitarra en la escuela secundaria. La semilla de Boricua Jazz se plantó en 2005, cuando escribió críticas para una variedad de publicaciones, incluyendo Jazz Times, Jazz Inside Magazine y Latin Jazz Network. Para su sorpresa, se dió cuenta de que, aparte de biografías al azar, no había publicaciones que contuvieran información precisa y creíble sobre artistas puertorriqueños. Esto, a pesar de que los artistas puertorriqueños, hombres y mujeres, se “escondían” a plena vista.

Mediante el uso de datos biográficos existentes, entrevistas, solicitudes de información, libros, revistas, artículos, sitios web y participación activa en la escena musical de Puerto Rico, Maldonado creó la Primera Edición de Boricua Jazz en 2019, una nutrida base de datos de 500 páginas y una valiosa herramienta de referencia.

La segunda edición contiene biografías y discografías actualizadas y fotos nuevas. Además, información detallada sobre artistas fallecidos. También contiene un índice completo (del que carecía la Primera Edición) e información sobre artistas y grupos que participaron en el Festival de Jazz de Puerto Rico Heineken (1991-2017). Boricua Jazz también contiene datos biográficos y, en la mayoría de los casos, una discografía.

Desglose por Capítulo

• CAPÍTULO 1 – arroja luz sobre el jazz en Nueva Orleans (la cuna del jazz), el blues, el ragtime, las bandas militares negras y Billie Holliday, Buddy Bolden, Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong y Sidney Bechet, entre otros. El capítulo también incluye una excelente selección de primeras grabaciones de jazz (1940-1960).
• CAPÍTULO 2 – Resume las formas musicales que se desarrollaron en Puerto Rico durante el siglo XIX y principios del siglo XX. Además, documenta los primeros encuentros entre la música estadounidense y puertorriqueña.
• CAPÍTULOS 3 y 4 – Se centran en el jazz puertorriqueño y se basan en el innovador libro de Basilio Serrano, Pioneros puertorriqueños en el jazz – 1900-1939 – Bomba Beats to Latin Jazz (iUniverse, 2015), y otras publicaciones.
• CAPÍTULO 5 – Dedicado al trombonista de válvulas, compositor, arreglista, visionario, transcriptor y progenitor del jazz latino, Juan Tizol.
• Capítulo 6 – Documenta las interacciones entre el jazz y la salsa. Asimismo, destaca las trayectorias de músicos puertorriqueños que hicieron importantes aportes al jazz en la isla y en Estados Unidos.
• CAPÍTULO 7 – Rinde homenaje a las organizaciones independientes (1960-1970) que expusieron a la isla al jazz, como el San Juan Jazz Workshop, el Don Pedro Jazz Workshop y el Caribbean Workshop. Los festivales internacionales más destacados como el Puerto Rico Heineken Jazz Fest no serían posibles sin estas organizaciones.
• CAPÍTULO 8 – Se centra en festivales, conciertos y jazz en la isla.
• CAPÍTULO 9 – Propone el surgimiento del Bomba Jazz (Jazz Afropuertorriqueño), único en la isla.
• CAPÍTULO 10 – Lleva a los lectores a la actualidad y presenta a jazzistas emergentes que están dando continuidad a la historia de los Boricua Jazz Masters.

A lo largo del libro, Maldonado acredita con razón a los músicos, compositores, arreglistas, directores de orquesta, promotores, presentadores, educadores, universidades, sitios web, presentadores de programas de radio, autores, historiadores y periodistas cuyas contribuciones al jazz fueron fundamentales para su desarrollo y popularización en la isla. Additionally, Maldonado deserves credit for being up to the task in this dedicated investigative endeavor.

Boricua Jazz es un manual para lectores curiosos por el jazz, la música y la cultura puertorriqueña. En una nota personal, es una herramienta de referencia invaluable a la que me refiero a menudo. Según el autor, se está preparando una edición en inglés.

About the Author

Wilbert Sostre Maldonado is a freelance contributing writer, creator of Jazzin’ magazine and the author of the book Boricua Jazz: Desde Rafael Hernández a Miguel Zenón, La Historia del Jazz Puertorriqueño. Also, he is the host and producer of Puerto Rico Jazz @ Radio Vieques, Brave New Radio, William Paterson University & Radio Procer, 1380am, 98.5FM Barranquitas, Puerto Rico. His writings appear on Latin Jazz Network, Vid 90 magazine, All About Jazz, Jazz Inside Magazine, Jazztimes, and other publications.

Author, journalist, educator Wilbert Sostre Maldonado


• Lapidus, Ben – New York and the International Sound of Latin Music – 1940-1990 (University Press of Mississippi-Jackson, 2021)
• Maldonado, William Sostre – Boricua Jazz, La Historia del Jazz Puertorriqueño (First Edition)
• Serrano, Basilio – Juan Tizol, His Caravan Through Life and American Culture (Xlibris)
• Serrano, Basilio – Puerto Rican Pioneers in Jazz, 1900-1939 – Bomba Beats to Latin Jazz (iUniverse)
• Sublette, Ned – Cuba and its Music, From the First Drums to the Mambo (Chicago Review Press)

© 2021 Tomas Peña – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Continue Reading

Most Read in 2022