Representante de la Salsa
Representante de la Salsa is Latin jazz violinist Susie Hansen’s third CD, a dance-oriented Salsa and Latin Jazz recording. Susie and her acclaimed musicians present hard-driving Salsa Dura, great Salsa in English, Salsa Romantica, instrumental Latin Jazz with a dance drive, and some familiar jazz standards with a Cha Cha Cha beat. As Susie says, on Representante de la Salsa, “We aim for the feet!”
- “Representante de la Salsa” (Susie Hansen, Erich Bulling, George Balmaseda, arr. by Susie Hansen, Erich Bulling) 3:46The title song is a driving Salsa Dura written by Susie Hansen, producer Erich Bulling and vocalist George Balmaseda, arranged by Hansen and Bulling. Sung with fiery intensity by Balmaseda, “Representante” challenges you to elect Susie’s band as your Representative of Salsa!Famous jazz journalist and photographer Ken Franckling says, “The title track is one of the many burners here.” According to Daniel Niedermann of www.LatinMusik.ch in Switzerland, “The rousing melody lets the dancers glide light-footed across the dance floor. A very lovely solo by Susie Hansen on the violin.Listen to MP3 sound clip of Representante de la Salsa
- “Te Quiero, Te Amo” (Susie Hansen, Erich Bulling, arr. by David Stout) 4:15A fast-paced Salsa Romantica sung by Balmaseda, this is another original by Hansen and Bulling, and has a sharp arrangement by trombonist David Stout.Roberto Rabbi from Italy at www.Salsa.it calls this song “a beautiful romantic Salsa with sabor.” As Daniel Niedermann writes in German at www.LatinMusik.ch, “The fast start belies the rather romantic title. There’s a very fine arrangement here and I really like the lead vocals.Listen to MP3 sound clip of Te Quiero Te Amo
- “Vehicle” [Vehicle (James M Peterik, Paul Murtha); Tu Carrito (C. Valencia, O. Hernandez)] 4:59A driving Salsa Dura in English and Spanish, this song features a powerful lead vocal in English by Kaspar Abbo, driving Spanish soneos by George Balmaseda, a fiery violin solo by Susie and a tour de force performance by the band. The song is a cover of the 1970’s hit “Vehicle” by The Ides of March, recorded previously by Carlos Oliva, with his timba arrangement and a medley with the relentless “Tu Carrito.”Noted jazz journalist Marc Myers of JazzWax.com observes, “You have to love an artist who chooses to give the Ides of March’s 1960 soul-pop hit Vehicle a Salsa spin.” Daniel Niedermann of Sitzerland at www.LatinMusik.ch calls this song “A fireworks display sung in English and Spanish.Listen to MP3 sound clip of Vehicle
- “Frank Sinatra Cha Cha Cha” [Fly Me to the Moon (Bart Howard), It Could Happen to You (Jimmy Van Heusen, Johnny Burke), It Had to be You (Isham Jones, Gus Kahn), All of Me (Gerald Marks, Seymour Simons), arr. by David Stout] 8:17This is the longest cut on the CD, great for those who really love to dance the cha cha cha. It’s an interpretation by arranger David Stout of some familiar songs from the Great American Song Book. Kaspar Abbo sings “Fly Me to the Moon,” Susie Hansen sings “It Could Happen to You,” George Balmaseda sings “It Had to Be You,” and Susie and Kaspar perform “All of Me” as a vocal duet. The instrumental solos by Hansen on violin, pianist Joe Rotondi, saxophonist Tim Messina and trombonist David Stout, give extra spice to this cha cha cha medley.According to Lee and J.J. MacFadden, Double Take columnists for www.TriCities.com, these four songs are “American classics that manage to be true to the originals as well as finding their own distinct Latin sound.” Roberto Rabbi at www.Salsa.it from Italy says, “Beautiful are the voices of the singers George Balmaseda, Kaspar Abbo and Hansen herself.Listen to MP3 sound clip of Frank Sinatra Cha Cha Cha
- “No Te Metas Conmigo” (Hector Manuel, Daniel Castillo) 4:45This hard-driving Salsa, the only cut performed in a Charanga style on the CD, seduces the dancers to the dance floor. The band’s fiery interpretation, along with George Balmaseda’s lead vocals, Tim Messina’s flute and Susie Hansen’s tipico violin solo give this cut an irresistible drive.Bruce Polin of Descarga.com in New York advises, “Listen to the killer No Te Metas Conmigo, a red-hot Charanga number which is one of my favorites.Listen to MP3 sound clip of No Te Metas Conmigo
- “Si No Contigo” (Susie Hansen, David Stout, arr. by David Stout) 4:12A fast-moving original instrumental mambo by Hansen and Stout, this danceable Latin Jazz features striking solos by Hansen and piano great Joe Rotondi, and not just one but two wild conga solos by Joe De Leon.At www.LatinMusik.ch in Switzerland, writer Daniel Niedermann describes this song as “an instrumental Latin jazz Mambo with beautiful solos — it’s a song for the late hours.Listen to MP3 sound clip of Si No Contigo
- “I Want to Love You” (Angel Lopez, arr. by Angel Lopez) 4:10This fast original Salsa Dura in English was written by Cuban/American bassist Angel Lopez for Susie’s band, and is sung by Susie and Kaspar Abbo as a duet.Roberto Rabbi from Italy at www.Salsa.it says “The track I Want to Love You, offers a more romantic-sounding Salsa.”Susie Hansen – Representante – I Want to Love You (demo).mp3Listen to MP3 sound clip of I Want to Love You
- “Si Me Vas a Querer”(Susie Hansen, George Balmaseda, Erich Bulling, arr. by Francisco Torres) 4:40A smoldering Salsa by Susie, Bulling and Balmaseda, this song is given a lovely romantic treatment by singer Balmaseda and a jazzy arrangement by Francisco Torres of the Poncho Sanchez Band.According to DJ Chino of Colombia, “I love Si Me Vas A Querer, which has a catchy chorus and a very interesting rhythm. It’s Salsa Romatica in its most beautiful expression, with the excellent vocal of Cubano George Balsameda.Listen to MP3 sound clip of Si Me Vas a Querer
- “Las Calles de Chicago” (Susie Hansen, Erich Bulling, arr. by Susie Hansen, Erich Bulling) 5:27A bright Latin jazz written in honor of Susie Hansen’s home town, this original instrumental mambo features solos from violinist Hansen, pianist Rotondi and powerful timbalero Jimmy Branly.According to Roberto Rabbi from Italy at www.Salsa.it, “Of note is the excellent Salsa/Descarga, Las Calles de Chicago.” Lubi Jovanovic of Salsa-Central.com in the UK writes, “The Latin jazz track gives Miss Hansen a chance to really stretch out.Listen to MP3 sound clip of Las Calles De Chicago
- “Beyond the Sea” (Charles Trenet, Jack Lawrence) 4:55A cover of the well-known Bobby Darin interpretation of this beloved American jazz standard, Kaspar Abbo croons over the band’s compelling Cha Cha Cha beat. Check out the band’s version of the big-band shout chorus with its bright Latin feel and Jimmy Branly’s striking timbale fills.Listen to MP3 sound clip of Beyond the Sea
- “Y Sigue Pensando” (Susie Hansen, Erich Bulling, arr. by Ramon Flores) 3:49The CD concludes with another original Salsa Dura by Susie Hansen and Erich Bulling, song by George Balmaseda. This is another memorable and forceful Salsa dance tune that fills the dance floor.Writing in German for www.LatinMusik.ch in Switzerland, Daniel Niedermann saysa, “The band really cracks it once again at the end with the Y Sigue Pensando hit, a worthy conclusion to an album that enchants me.Listen to MP3 sound clip of Y Sigue Pensando
- SUSIE HANSEN, electric violin, background vocal
- GEORGE BALMASEDA, lead vocal, background vocal
- KASPAR ABBO, lead vocal, background vocal
- DAVID STOUT, trombone
- TIM MESSINA, tenor sax, flute
- STEVE MARSH, tenor sax, alto sax
- JOE ROTONDI, JR., piano
- RENE CAMACHO, bass, background vocal
- JOEY DE LEON, JR., congas
- JIMMY BRANLY, timbales
- RICARDO “TIKI” PASILLAS, bongo, guiro, maracas, campana, trap drums, timbales
- ERICH BULLING, background vocal
- Produced by ERICH BULLING and SUSIE HANSEN
- Executive Producer, SUSIE HANSEN
- Mixing Engineer, ROLY GARBALOSA
- Mixing Producer, MIKE RIVERA
- Original CD art, MICHAEL CRAMPTON
- Graphic Design, HECTOR CRUZ SANDOVAL
- Susie Hansen plays the Zeta Violin
Liner Notes by Don Heckman — Representante de la Salsa
The first time I saw Susie Hansen in action, leading her Salsa band in a rhythmic set that was setting even my non-terpsichorean feet into action, I knew she was something special. The tunes and the rhythm and the sheer energy of the music she was creating – moving lithely in front of the microphone, her flip hairdo flying – were more than enough to prove that fact. But it wasn’t until I found out more about her, about the fact that she was a Chicago girl with a classical music background and a pair of Master’s degrees in Electrical Engineering from M.I.T., that I realized how unique Susie really was.
So, strange though it may seem for the title Representante de la Salsa to be claimed by a slender blonde, playing a five-string electric violin, leading an all-male band of Latin jazz veterans, the proof is in the music. And the music in this collection is a scintillating display of what she loves most and does best — Salsa and Latin jazz.
One of the fundamental givens about Latin jazz has always been that it is fueled by a simmering undercurrent of dance rhythms. Whether it was the pioneering Machito band, Dizzy Gillespie’s Latin-infused bebop, Cal Tjader, Tito Puente, Los Van Van or Poncho Sanchez, whether the first emphasis was on jazz or dance, the two elements seem almost symbiotically connected. In this case, Susie notes that the dance element was what led the way in the planning of Representante de la Salsa.
“My producer Erich Bulling and I wanted to keep the connection with jazz that’s always been basic to my music,” says Susie, “while moving more in the dance direction. We included a couple of instrumentals, and lots of soloing on every track, while still making it a total dance album.”
Susie has done exactly this. The title track, Representante de la Salsa, written by Susie, Bulling and singer George Balmaseda, is given a dynamic vocal interpretation by Balmaseda. According to Susie, this will be the first single released from the album, and the vibrant combination of Balmaseda’s vocal with the hip-shaking rhythms virtually guarantees that it will quickly become a dance hit with the Salsa DJs. “Vehicle” drives – appropriately – with swinging enthusiasm, enhanced by Kaspar Abbo’s roaring, David Clayton-Thomas-like lead vocal and Susie’s high-flying solo. Backing him, the ensemble, with David Stout’s orchestration placing Susie’s crisp violin lines at the top of the horns, recalls the hit tunes of Blood, Sweat & Tears.
“I always tell arrangers,” explains Susie, “that you need to think of this as a three-horn sound – trumpet, tenor and trombone – but with the violin playing the lead role of the trumpet.”
A pair of instrumentals, “Si No Contigo” and “Las Calles de Chicago” (a tribute to her hometown written by Hansen and Bulling), swing hard with exactly the kind of sound she describes. For some exciting soloing, listen to Joe Rotondi’s jaunty piano solo on the former, Susie’s soulful violin and Stout’s fervent trombone on the latter.
And, as Susie noted, the dance card is always present. Songs such as the only Charanga in the set, “No Te Metas Conmigo” (by Hector Manuel), the Salsa Dura “Y Sigue Pensando” (another original by Hansen and Bulling), Angel Lopez’s pop-style “I Want to Love You” (sung with sexy intimacy by Susie, Kaspar and her back-up singers) and Charles Trenet’s classic “Beyond the Sea,” have an inescapable ability to keep the body moving and the blood flowing.
George Balmaseda’s brawny sound takes center stage on the gently rocking “Si Me Vas a Querer,” and he dips into his rich baritone for the floating lyricism of the love song “Te Quiero, Te Amo.” One track that has it all is the medley “Frank Sinatra Cha Cha Cha,” which manages to combine four standards (“Fly Me to the Moon,” “It Could Happen to You,” “It Had to Be You” and “All of Me”) from the Great American Songbook, feature vocals by Abbo, Hansen and Balmaseda, toss in solos from tenor saxophonist Tim Messina and trombonist Stout, and do it all over yet another infectious dance rhythm. Susie sings both lead and back-up throughout the album, and her duet with Abbo on “All of Me” and her convincing vocal version of “It Could Happen to You” testify to yet another facet of her colorful array of talents.
Representante de la Salsa celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Susie Hansen Latin Band. A few of the players – Rotondi, bassist Rene Camacho, Stout and Balmaseda – have been there almost since the beginning. And the current personnel reaches back close to a decade. Keeping a ten-piece band together over that period of time – given the roller-coaster ride the economy’s been experiencing – has to be considered a remarkable achievement, musically and financially.
The eleven tracks on this entertaining collection of tunes provide solid evidence of how Susie’s been able to do it. Back in the days of LPs, musicians used to say, “It’s either in the grooves or it isn’t.” In the case of the Salsa-driven music of the very contemporary Susie Hansen Latin Band, one could easily transform the line into a pun and say, “It’s either in the groove, or it isn’t.”
When I mentioned the thought to Susie, she responded with her typically effervescent laughter, and added, “As long as the rhythm is there you can do whatever you want. As long as it’s smoking, it’s swinging, it’s cooking.”
A line like that – just like the music on Representante de la Salsa – should delight both the dance fans and the jazz fans of her irresistible music.
– Don Heckman, The International Review of Music
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- “I dare you not to move. The leader’s electric violin rides the band’s percussive cushion like a surfboard on a great wave.”
–Ken Franckling Jazz Notes, July 2010, USA
- “One of the best productions of the year 2010.”
–Orlando Lopez, El Magazine de la Salsa, July 2010, Venezuela
- “If you dig Latin, this album will blow you away just as it did me.”
–Marc Myers, JazzWax.com, July 2010, USA
- “Without a false note anywhere, this just might be the perfect summer record.”
–Chris Spector, MidwestRecord.com, July 2010, USA
- “Queen of the Latin violin, Hansen and her band play hardcore Salsa. Representante de la Salsa is on fire.”
–Rudy Mangual, Latin Beat Magazine, May 2010, USA
- “It’s an album of great quality with songs immediately accessible and rich.”
–Roberto Rabbi, MusicaSalsa.it, July 2010, Italy
- “First rate stuff, highly recommended. Great job by singers George Balmaseda, Kaspar Abbo and Hansen.”
–Bruce Polin, Descarga.com, June 2010, USA<
- “For dancers, there are five fantastic Salsa tracks which should fill any dance floor. Miss Hansen plays excellent Salsa/jazz violin.”
–Lubi Jovanovic, SalsaCentral.com, June 2010, UK
- In her first appearance on the Salsa Forum chart in Germany, Susie ranks Number One with ‘No Te Metas Conmigo’ from her new CD.
—www.SalsaForum.de, August 2010, Germany
- “What a pleasure, the famous virtuoso violinist Susie Hansen of Los Angeles creates a production that is flawless and serious.”
–DJ El Chino, Solar Latin Club, June 2010, Colombia
- “Quite infectious and difficult to resist. Highly recommended.”
–Scott Yanow, LA Jazz Scene, August 2010, USA
- “This album is beautiful! It’s an album that enchants me.”
–Daniel Niedermann, LatinMusik.ch, June 2010, Switzerland