Sunday, March 19, 2023, the 39th edition of National Zalsa Day returned to the date established in 2000 with the approval of Law No. 100, which decrees the third Sunday of March of each year as National Salsa Day.
This edition of the activity of worldwide importance, which has almost reached four decades since its first edition at the José Pepito Bonano Park in Guaynabo, demonstrated Z-93’s support for the proposals of the new generation. That promise, made in its 38th edition, has been fulfilled.
The day began at about eleven in the morning. The Orquesta del Rey de Puerto Rico, winners of the contest held in Panama to select the talent to be presented yesterday on the DNZ stage, was in charge of the ignition.
As soon as this first intervention culminated; the orchestra of Robert Burgos shone in a change of rhythm something more cubaneao. When the sun was at its hottest moment, Maelo Ruiz arrived on stage for the first time as a soloist, accompanied by the musical direction of his nephew, the outstanding percussionist of the so-called nueva cepa: Jean Carlos Camuñas. Pirulo arrived on stage with his usual urban charisma, stealing the hearts of the new salsa
The fifth intervention marked the arrival of the Orquesta del Día Nacional, led by the multifaceted Isidro Infante. The orchestra backed Nino Segarra, who enchanted the audience with Entre la espada y la pared and Porque te amo; Yolanda Rivera, who performed Se formó and Hasta que se rompa el cuero as well as a descarga in front of the timbal; Luigui Texidor, who sang Boranda and Moreno soy.
Next, “El Niño Bonito de la Salsa”, Ismael Miranda arrived accompanied by his family and Pastor Alex D’ Castro to receive from Néstor Galán -better known as “el búho loco”- the well-deserved Estrella Award, instituted as part of the annual salsa day.
Once the Estrella Award was presented to Miranda, Pichie Pérez sang El sonero del bailador and a medley of the songs that consolidated him as a singer when he was part of the giants of the south, the Sonora Ponceña. These were: Hacheros pa’ un palo, Fuego en el 23, El pío pío and Yambeque.
After Pichie finished his performance, Alex D’ Castro took the stage and gave the evening its climax with Te fuiste, Como si nada and Si no fuera por ti. Alex was followed by the new promise of salsa, already recorded, published and released by Sony Music Latin: Luis Figueroa.
As part of the tribute to the 50th anniversary of the establishment of Típica 73, there was a reunion on stage of singers Tito Allen, Adalberto Santiago and José Alberto “El Canario”; backed by the manager of Típica 73, Johnny Dandy Rodríguez. Tito Allen performed Guancona and Guaguancó de los violentos. Adalberto Santiago showed off his voice with Mañoño and La candela. For his part, “El Canario” arrived with his usual scenic mastery with A la hora que me llamen voy, Esta noche pinta bien, Xiomara -a theme in which he was accompanied by Tito Allen and Adalberto Santiago- and Baila que baila.
After the segment in which the three singers came together again, bongos player Johnny Dandy received the tribute on behalf of Típica. The first intervention of the DNZ Orchestra closed with Domingo Quiñones in an energetic interpretation of Salsumba, a song with which he participated in the production El número 100 of the “King of the Timbal”, Tito Puente.
When the afternoon wanted to give way to the night, Charlie Aponte’s orchestra was in charge of keeping the audience in the necessary mood to continue with salsa. The songs that Charlie kept the audience captive were Arroz con habichuelas, Se nos rompió el amor, Teléfono, Esos ojitos negros, Goyito Sabater and Gracias salsero.
Preceding the tribute to the “King of the Timbal”, on the 100th anniversary of his birth; India showed off her interpretative quality, evidencing her well-earned title. Yes, India is “la más que canta”. Her interpretation of Vivir lo nuestro, Dicen que soy -a song for which she was accompanied by Sergio George on piano shortly after he brought her a birthday cake on stage-, Ese hombre and Mi primera rumba showed her vocal virtuosity.
The concert was closed by Tito Puente, Jr. surrounded by timbaleros Nicky Marrero, Endel Dueño and Orestes Vilató, under the musical direction of timbalero José Madera. Tito’s guest singers for the closing were Frankie Figueroa, Frankie Morales and Melina Almodóvar.
Writer, Afro-Caribbean Music Researcher
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