The Salsa Never Ends

The Salsa Never Ends is Latin jazz violinst Susie Hansen’s second CD, a well-received and critically-reviewed recording with songs that have become popular around the globe. On this 2002 Jazz Caliente Records release, Susie and her Los Angeles-based band play hard-driving, dance-inspiring, soul-moving Latin jazz and Salsa.

Musical Selections

  1. “I Want to Know” (Erich Bulling and Susie Hansen, arr. by David Stout)A hot Latin jazz opener featuring solos from Susie and trombonist David Stout. In LA Jazz Scene, Patricia Albela calls this selection, “a dazzling mambo jazz collaboration between Hansen and co-producer Erich Bulling.”
  2. “La Salsa Nunca Se Acaba (The Salsa Never Ends)” (Yorthley Riva, adapted by Susie Hansen and Erasmo Ortiz from “Salsa Computarizada”)The title cut features vocalist George Balmaseda in an explosive and fierce salsa in the New York tradition. This selection has received extensive airplay over the past two years throughout the US, Canada and across the world, and in 2003-2004 was included in three major European Latin compilations. “The title track has become a club and radio favorite,” says Nelson Rodriguez, Latin Beat Magazine. “The title track can pack a dance floor with its infections Salsa Dura,” Walberto Escobar, Sabor Magazine.Listen to MP3 sound clip of
    La Salsa Nunca Se Acaba      
  3. “Blues Con Fuego” (Susie Hansen, arr. by David Stout)This is a fiery Latin jazz merengue written by Susie, a tour-de-force for soloists Hansen, tenor saxophonist Justo Almario and congero Joe De Leon. It’s a powerful, thrilling, lightening-fast romp. According to renowned percussionist and recording artist, Bobby Sanabria, “‘Blues Con Fuego’ successfully blends merengue, blues, charanga and funk into one cohesive unit that rocks. Susie plays the heck out of it, and if that weren’t enough she composed the darn thing!” This song has received extensive airplay on jazz and Latin jazz radio.Listen to MP3 sound clip of
    Blues Con Fuego      
  4. “Que Pase La Tormenta” (Susie Hansen, Erich Bulling, Ruben Esteva, arr. by David Stout)This salsa collaboration was written by Susie, producer Bulling and lead singer Esteva, and arranged by trombonist David Stout. “Just the right mix of ‘sabor’ to tantalize even the hardest of the hard-core Salseros,” says David Ortiz, WRTI-FM, Philadelphia.Listen to MP3 sound clip of
    Que Pase La Tormenta      
  5. “Cha Cha Con Maña” (Ruben Esteva, arr. by David Stout)Written and sung by vocalist Ruben Esteva, this charming Cha Cha Cha is complemented by an engaging arrangement by David Stout.
  6. “La Pregunta” (Susie Hansen/David Stout, arr. by David Stout)A lyrical violin solo by Susie, and a fiery, funky tenor solo by Steve Marsh are offered in this Latin jazz Bolero. “Superb,” says Patricia Albela, LA Jazz Scene. Mark Holston says in Hispanic Magazine, “The romantic bolero ‘La Pregunta’ allows her elegant classical technique to surface.Listen to MP3 sound clip of
    La Pregunta      
  7. “With Each Beat of My Heart” (Stevie Wonder, arr. by Susie Hansen)The only vocal selection in English, this song is a salsa arrangement of a Stevie Wonder song. It’s “a surprise hit, a romantic tune arranged by Susie Hansen,” according to Kathy “La Rumbera” Diaz in Sabor Magazine. “I love the Steve Wonder song done in salsa,” says David Ortiz, WRTI-FM, Philadelphia.Listen to MP3 sound clip of
  8. “Alibi”(David Stout, arr. by David Stout)A powerful Latin jazz mambo by David Stout, this selection is a vehicle for the solo power of Hansen, saxophonist Justo Almario and pianist Joe Rotondi. The shout chorus has all the great style of the finest big band jazz numbers. A “fiery Latin jazz arrangement that truly cooks,” Bruce Polin, Descarga.Listen to MP3 sound clip of
  9. “Elegu” (Tony Fuentes)This Charanga for the dancers has a unique arrangement. According to Gilbert Rivera of Latin Beat Magazine, “Highlights of the CD include ‘Elegu,’ a retro pachanga.”
  10. “Tambo” (George Balmaseda, arr. by Armando Morales, Susie Hansen, George Balmaseda)An original, exciting and very danceable salsa with powerhouse vocals from the great singer George Balmaseda. “Oh, those dance tunes! ‘Tambo’ is a real show stopper with its clever arrangement,” writes Kathy “La Rumbera” Diaz for Sabor Magazine.Listen to MP3 sound clip of

Musicians Featured

  • SUSIE HANSEN, electric violin, background vocals
  • GEORGE BALMASEDA, lead vocals, background vocals
  • RUBEN ESTEVA, lead vocals
  • DAVID STOUT, trombone
  • STEVE MARSH, tenor sax, flute
  • JUSTO ALMARIO, tenor sax
  • JOE ROTONDI, JR., piano
  • RENE CAMACHO, bass, background vocals
  • JOEY DE LEON, congas, bongos, percussion
  • RICARDO “TIKI” PASILLAS, drums, timbales, percussion

Production Credits

  • 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

Press Clips

    • ken-franklin-jazz-notes“Masterpiece is an apt description of the latest salsa-accented Latin jazz treat from violinist Susie Hansen. Her swinging violin brings an exciting new voice to a genre that often seems just to repeat overly familiar formulas. . . The Salsa Never Ends is indeed masterful.
      –Mark Holston, Hispanic Magazine
    • orlando-lopez-el-magazine“The focus of these tracks is, of course, Ms. Hansen’s rich and inspiring violin virtuosity. When her bow hits the strings, sparks fly. Recommended.”
      –Bruce Polin,
    • marc-myers-jazz-wax“All the selections are high-energy and dance-friendly. . . . Hansen’s vibrant violin melds together traditional Cuban charanga melodies and jazz improvisations.”
      –Gilbert Rivera, JazzWax.comLatin Beat Magazine
    • chris-spector-midwest-record“…when I open a new CD I’m thinking that I have heard all there is to hear in Latin jazz. But man, was I wrong. When I heard Susie’s CD, the music really impressed me.”
      –Norberto Rivera, WIPR-FM, Puerto Rico, “Jazz Latino”

  • rudy-mangual-latin-beat“Susie Hansen is a very successful bandleader in L.A. The band is loaded with great musicians. And ‘Blues Con Fuego,’ what a great tune!”
    -Jose Rizo, KKJZ-FM, Los Angeles, Jazz on the Latin Side
  • roberto-rabbi-musica-salsa“A first-class rhythm section, some of the most in-demand Latin musicians in town. Versatile pianist Joe Rotondi burns with his montunos, and creates delicate, beautiful melodies. Bassist Rene Camacho integrates a solid tumbao with an acute sense of melody. . . . A danceable treat for the ears. Highly recommended.”
    –Patricia Albela, LA Jazz Scene
      • ken-franklin-jazz-notes“Everybody on the CD sounds great.”
        –Bobby Sanabria, Drummer, Percussionist, Recording Artist, Educator, New York City
      • orlando-lopez-el-magazine“All the selections are high-energy and dance-friendly. . . .?Hansen’s vibrant violin melds togther traditional Cuban charanga melodies and jazz improvisations.”
        –Gilbert Rivera, Latin Beat Magazine
      • marc-myers-jazz-wax
        “This production is geared for the dancer in all of us. With some of L.A.’s renowned musicians, ‘The Salsa Never Ends’ packs a wallop of rhythm. . . . Hansen has talent and a perfect sense of clave.”
        –Javier Rivera, Oasis Salsero
      • chris-spector-midwest-record“I know great music when I hear it. I know what a hit is, and [this] CD is a HIT with me! I like the whole CD, it’s on my playlist. I love that conga solo by Joe DeLeon on the merengue, “Blues Con Fuego,” it’s a trip!”
        –Johnny Conga, KBCS-FM, Bellevue WA, “Al Lado Latina”
      • rudy-mangual-latin-beat“I love the CD. I have been programming it for my audiences all around the world!”
        –Henry Knowles,
      • roberto-rabbi-musica-salsa“Sensational band! You can feel the chemistry that has been cultivated by the musicians. Captivating music. . . Salsa meets jazz with a hot violin leading the way.”
        –Walberto Escobar, Sabor Magazine
      • roberto-rabbi-musica-salsa“There is no shortage of excitement throughout this memorable set. Hansen easily straddles the boundaries between salsa and Latin jazz, excelling in both.”
        –Scott Yanow, LA Jazz Scene

Liner Notes by Zan Steward – The Salsa Never Ends

  Talk about infectious: that’s Susie Hansen’s distinctive approach to Latin jazz,captivating to dancers and listeners alike.

   Susie’s dynamic band sound is unique. Spotlighting her vibrant violin, Hansen blends traditional Cuban charanga, a salsa predecessor that features the violin both melodically and rhythmically, with other Afro-Cuban rhythms and potent straight-ahead jazz improvisation.

   Hansen’s role is definitely multi-faceted. She plays the melody lines, with her resounding tone and fluid style functioning like a singer or a trumpet, and she delivers jazz solos replete with choice notes and sure-footed rhythms. Hansen also works within the ensemble-playing lead parts in her jazz-based horn section, and playing the rhythmic tumbao that complements the piano’s rousing montuno during the coros (vocal chorus).

   Couple Hansen’s efforts with a superior ensemble and it’s clear why her music, with its wealth of spirit, energy and musicality, attracts such a devoted following. One of Los Angeles’ top Latin artists, Susie makes people smile and move with the verve and drive of her music.

   “The fact that so many people tell me how important my music is to them makes me feel that I’m doing something that increases the love in the world,” says Hansen, who has also performed with Tito Puente, Cuban’s renowned Orquesta Los Van Van, and the famed Charanga group, Orquesta Aragon.

   The Salsa Never Ends is Hansen’s long-awaited follow-up to Solo Flight, her debut album on the Jazz Caliente label. Here the versatile violinist and her band deliver the kind of exhilarating numbers that have made her an L.A. name.

   In her own words, Hansen salutes the excellent players on The Salsa Never Ends. “Drummer Tiki Pasillas, the cornerstone of the rhythm section, has such a driving presence and strong sense of how this music works. Joey Rotondi, who is an incredible soloist, plays the best montuno of any Latin jazz pianist I know. Bassist Rene Camacho’s beat is rhythmically propulsive and melodically interesting. Conga drummer Joey De Leon lays down a groove that always makes you want to move. Trombonist David Stout is a great soloist, a strong ensemble player and a terrific arranger. Tenor saxophonist-flutist Steve Marsh’s playing is that wonderful combination of melodic and funky.  The singers, George Balmaseda and Ruben Esteva, have terrific voices that are distinctive.  George is a talented sonero [the singer that improvises the responses to the coros] and has a wonderful melodic sense. Ruben has a voice that people really like, and he has a talent for writing lyrics.  And as for guest tenor saxophonist Justo Almario, everyone knows what a marvelous player he is.”

   The Salsa Never Ends begins with an ear-pleasing mambo, “I Want to Know.” Susie’s solo reveals both her firm, singing tone and her sure-footed jazz feel.

   The invigorating “La Salsa Nunca Se Acaba (The Salsa Never Ends)” exemplifies the mixture of melodicism and rhythmic heat Hansen’s band can generate. Drummer Pasillas gets to let loose during the montuno.

   Riotously fast, “Blues Con Fuego” is a merengue written by Hansen.  “It’s so much fun to play,” she says.  Almario’s solo, especially over the horn backgrounds in Stout’s vigorous arrangement, is memorable, as is the violinist’s.

   For the salsa “Que Pase La Tormenta,” Susie wrote the melody several years ago but didn’t finish it.  Recently she and producer Erich Bulling composed the catchy coro.  Next, Ruben added lyrics to the verses and bridge and David wrote the arrangement. “It was very exciting for us to create this song together,” she says.

   The trombonist and Hansen crafted the bolero “La Pregunta” to feature the lyrical beauty of the violin.

   Stevie Wonder’s “With Each Beat of My Heart” is given a salsa treatment via Susie’s smooth arrangement. “I like the way the song fits to a Latin beat, and I love how George sings it,” she notes.

   Esteva’s “Cha Cha Con Maña” is outfitted with a warm melody interpretation by the composer and another redoubtable Stout chart.

   David’s instrumental mambo, “Alibi,” has drive, a fine shout chorus and first-rate solos by our violinist, pianist Rotondi and tenorman Almario.

   Though the charanga “Eleguá” was first recorded by the New York-based Ray De La Paz, Hansen and her colleagues make this rendition their own. “The arrangement, with all its rhythmic stops, is compelling,” enthuses Susie. Note the spirited flute solo by Marsh.

   We close with Balmaseda’s forceful salsa “Tambo,” a tribute to the drum.  It’s another appealing dance tune that showcases the composer’s beguiling singing and the polyrhythms of De Leon’s conga solo.

   Susie Hansen is rightfully proud of The Salsa Never Ends. “My band is at a new level and the playing is simply outstanding,” she says.  “The album represents what we do best: play irresistible dance music packed solid with jazz.” Not many bands can pull that one off.

Zan Stewart, ASCAP-Deems Taylor award recipient, contributor, Stereophile, Down Beat