06 October 2005

Salsa Worldwide

Salsa is universal. I know why I love the infectuous blast of horns, the incessant rhythms of good salsa. But to understand why Afghanis love it, you might want to talk to Scott Baldauf, or read his article on salsa in Afghanistan in the Christian Science Monitor.
The music was a revelation. After Sept. 11, and the media barrage proclaiming a "clash of civilizations" between the West and the Arabic world, here was evidence of something quite the opposite. Instead of a clash, this was a blend, and a gorgeous one at that.
It was a reminder that there were other voices in the Arab world than Osama bin Laden, and good voices at that. "Amr Diab," the taxi driver announced proudly. "He is Ricky Martin of the Arab people."
I don't know that anyone in Dakar is claiming to be the Senegalese Ricky Martin, but Africa's got more salsa bands than you can shake a calabash at (African Salsa on the Earthworks label is just one compilation). So does Japan (led by Orquestra Del Sol).

Tomas ThordarsonCover of Tomas ThordarsonToday, we head to an even more improbably hotbed of salsa. Yes, my friends, Denmark. And even the little mermaid shouts "Azucar!" when Tomas Thordarson takes the stage. In this song, Tomas apparently has the blues, though you'd never know it from the music. He sings: "I’m sitting here alone, drinking red wine from yesterday / With just a poor memory of the best years / And that’s what I can’t understand."

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Tomas Thordarson, the Ricky Martin of Denmark.

Tomas Thordarson: "Hvis du vil ha mig"

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