A new Willie Colón album is certainly a noteworthy event these days.
The new record will have great traditional Puerto Rican music along with some extended jams and a tribute to Hector Lavoe.
I will be getting this music right away!
Willie Colón: ‘El Malo’ strikes back
By Angela González and Maite Junco
More than a decade after his last CD release, and an immersion lesson in digital technology, salsa legend Willie Colón is back with a new album.
In between his latest recording, “El Malo, Vol. 2: Prisioneros del Mambo,” and 1998’s “Demasiado Corazón,” Colón devoted himself to touring and city politics — far from the mixing studio where he last worked with tapes.
“It took me a while to be ready, but once I got used to the new technology, which is like a word processor, I added a lot of details, sound levels,” says the Bronx Boricua. “It looks simple from afar, but it’s complicated.”
The result is 13 songs — some with Colón’s trademark social message — that mix salsa with plena (“El Brujo”), bomba (“Mucha Leña Pa’l Fuego”), son, 1970s descarga and even some urban music, a combo of genres he calls his “Afro-Boricua rhythm.”
“In this album, I play various trumpet and trombone solos, I sing and even do the chorus of some songs,” he explains. “Also, there are various of my own arrangements and compositions. I was able to do a bit of everything.”
The 58-year-old Colón, who has worked with Rubén Blades, Celia Cruz and Héctor Lavoe and whose name is synonymous with the heyday of salsa, retakes the name of his first album, “El Malo,” from 1967.
He also breaks with today’s music rule that songs should not exceed four minutes “so they are played on the radio,” he says.
Actually, nine of the songs in “Prisioneros del Mambo” break the barrier. “Four minutes is not really enough to develop the musical stories that I want to create,” he says.
Released on his own label, Lone Wolf, the CD is on sale on Amazon, in local music stores and at http://www.williecolon.com.
He hopes it will mark a new beginning for his live performances.
“It would be a gift to be able to play a new repertoire, because where I go, people have the list of what they want to hear. They ask for ‘El Gran Varón,’ ‘La Murga,’ and if you want to play something new, they want to stone you.”
A critic of the “El Cantante” movie because it focused too much on the “tragedy’ of Lavoe’s life and addictions and not his music, Colón includes his own tribute to his friend in the CD.
Nearly 14 minutes long, the “Héctor Lavoe Medley” runs through the classics “El Cantante,” “Periódico de Ayer,” “Todopoderoso” and “La Banda.”
“I wanted to do something fitting,” he says. “I feel I have the right to do it because I wrote the music to all these songs.”
An adviser to Mayor Bloomberg on media and Latino entertainment issues, Colón has run various times for public office. The last time, he was a candidate for Public Advocate in the 2001 Democratic primary.
He told the Daily News he wanted to do this album “before I hang up my trombone.”
“I don’t know the exact date, but it’s a matter of time,” he said.
And from politics?
“They are not getting rid of me yet,” he says with a laugh. “I want to stay active.”