Friday, August 31, 2007

NY Times describes 'classic salsa' revival in Jackson Heights

Along Roosevelt Avenue, Suddenly, It’s the ’70s
By SAKI KNAFO for NY Times August 26, 2007

IT’S not just the indie rockers of Brooklyn who, upon entering a time machine, would probably set the dial to, say, 1977. Prompted by “El Cantante,” the new film with Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony about the singer Héctor Lavoe, the city’s Latino neighborhoods are becoming charmed by the sounds of those years. But in their case, those are sounds of classic salsa rather than of the Ramones...

...But “El Cantante,” which opened a couple of weeks ago, has sparked a resurgence of enthusiasm for Mr. Lavoe’s music, one that extends not just to non-Puerto Rican Latinos. It is shared by Latinos who moved to New York only in the last few years, well after the end of the era when salsa ruled the Latin music scene and New York was salsa’s capital.

Many of these fans live in Jackson Heights, Queens. Among non-Latinos, the neighborhood is known for its Mexican, Ecuadorean and Colombian restaurants, but scattered among the local businesses are dozens of music stores. On one mile-long stretch of Roosevelt Avenue, from 97th Street to 75th Street, nearly every block is home to at least one CD store. Some blocks have as many as four or five, if you count the Spanish grocery stores with CDs tucked among the jars of cactus shoots and the boxes of yucca...

...In Jackson Heights and elsewhere, salsa is particularly popular among Colombians, a people who have produced their own fast-paced version of the sound. Up and down Roosevelt Avenue, sunset-colored posters advertise concerts featuring cumbia, another Colombian musical export. But for New York’s Colombians, classic salsa offers a sound that comes straight from the streets of their adopted city. As Mr. Galvis put it, “I’m from another country and I’m here, and these people are telling me something about my life.”...
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