Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sabor De 'El Diferente': The Great Angel Canales

Angel Canales was the most underrated Sonero of the 70's and 80's. An impeccable command with an idiosyncratic flow, his punctuation gave sincerity to the lyric. A beautiful voice he could sing the bolero as well as lace the guaguanco with fire as the call and response was always clever and fluid. The musical style of his band was swinging latin jazz with constant features of extended solos and immense merging of bomba and plena. A fighter for equal pay to his incredible band players (i.e. antonio tapia wonderful on congas) and against the diluted romantica trend of the 80's it was said he tore up his compositions and quit. In retrospect, his warm and sincere stage presence had a subtle flamboyance that led some to note he was gay. Whether this was true or not, it may have made his career even more difficult. Ultimately, he was on the level of any sonero that was a Fania All Star and stopped making music in his prime.

It is said that he has toured in the late 90's and possibly may have recorded some new material. Of the few albums available (;;163) are all superior with the classic 70's salsa dura sound on the early recordings (i.e. 1975's Sabor, 1976's El San Juan, 1977's Mas Sabor sold today as Markolino Dimond's Brujeria. Dimond being the band leader of the group Sabor and great pianist.) and the more avant garde latin jazz recordings with heavy bomba and plena influence recorded on his own Selanac label (i.e. 1978's El Sentimiento Del Latino En Nueva York, 1981's El Diferente, 1984's Ya Es Tiempo).

For the 1970's and early 80's, salsa was New York's Hip Hop for many. It was gritty speaking of the refusal to assimilate, it displayed the swagger of lyrical skill (the sonero literally freestyle rhymes during the call and response section of the song. Every two responses from the sonero is literally a bar) boasting of supremacy in the art and was a challenging music to old ears. It also has a root foundation (Cuban son) that it honors yet veers away from with any and all other great influences and ideas it may find.

Angel Canales possessed all of the classic sonero skills, made incredible albums and spoke to the people. His expression of love and intimacy is uniquely memorable and his rapport with crowds and enforcement of innovation will always be endearing and admirable.


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