The most talked about concert since last year,‘Una Sola Salsa’ (Only One Salsa), with two legendary salseros of all time Gilberto Santa Rosa and Ruben Blades opened its North American tour this year in February at Lehman College in Bronx, NY. ‘Una Sola Salsa’ made its way to Amway Center in Orlando, FL on a stormy evening making those traveling from Tampa, Ocala and other surrounding cities a longer drive. Susana Charneco from Lakeland saw the storm coming from afar but just prayed to make it on time to the arena. Fate was on every ones side with the concert starting a half hour later than scheduled.
This was not a concert of who was better or which singer can out do the other. It was two singing legends – one 48 years of age Puerto Rican known as ‘el caballero de la salsa’ (gentleman of salsa) whom his lyrics are more so geared to romance, a producer and a sonero (improvise lyrics in the middle of a song), Gilberto Santa Rosa; and one 62 years of age Panamanian, a lawyer, politician, songwriter and actor Ruben Blades whom sings about everyday social struggles – uniting their talents as well as all salsa lover nationalities into one and promote the unforgettable and irreplaceable salsa music concept. The two had shared the stage numerous times when the idea of ‘Una Sola Salsa’ sparked at an Ozzie Guillen benefit event.
As an introduction before the commencement of the ‘Una Sola Salsa’ concert a slide show of descriptive phrases and influential photos of salsa musicians from Hector Lavoe, Frankie Ruiz to the Fania All Stars were displayed in the background of the stage with ecstatic acknowledgement of all present. Immediately the musicians started playing excerpts of both before Gilberto Santa Rosa and Ruben Blades appeared sharing the stage for the opening number – ‘Con la mayor elegancia’ – and several times throughout the 2 ½ hour concert reminiscing, joking and even inviting the ‘Pavarotti’ of salsa Tito Nieves to join them on stage for a number. (continues after ad)
As one took his turn for solo numbers the other would join in singing choir and or playing the maracas (hand held shakers) allowing each one the opportunity to sing solo some of their well-known hits. Ruben Blades started his solo with ‘Decisiones’, ‘Maestra vida’ that he wrote when he was 32 which talks about the joys and difficulties of life’s lessons that has a different meaning for him now that he’s in his 60s, ‘Pedro Navaja’,‘Camaleón’ are just a few from his select song group. As for Gilberto Santa Rosa’s repertoire consisted of songs from the beginning when he sang with select groups of Willie Rosario, Tommy Oliviencia… – ‘Como sube la gasolina’, ‘Botaron la pelota’, ‘Que alguien me diga’ continuing into his solo hits ‘Conciencia’ stating it’s an important song for him, ‘Perdóname’, ‘Amor mío no te vayas’, among others. He didn’t leave out his sonero skills.
Gilberto and Ruben shared the stage in singing duets in ‘Final del mundo’ as Gilberto Santa Rosa and Ruben Blades commented was due to the talk about the world ending, ‘Para ser rumbero’, ‘Me cambiaron las preguntas’ which is Gilberto Santa Rosa’s first social issue related recording in his latest album ‘Irrepitible’, ‘Juan Pachanga’, and ending the ‘Una Sola Salsa’ concert of legendary, veteran salseros with‘Muévete’. A concert in the making of music history that leaves everyone longing for more salsa music.
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