From: National Geographic
The word "salsa" is a perfect metaphor for a genre of music that emerged as a result of mixture: Cuban-based rhythms played (mainly) by Puerto Ricans in New York City! What salsa is—a sauce—helped to describe the cultural and musical make-up of New York City during the 1960s and 1970s; what it is not is a rhythm. Before they called it salsa, many musicians in New York had already explored the possibilities of blending Cuban rhythms with jazz, such as legendary Cuban brothers-in-law Machito and Mario Bauzá. Back in the 1940s, it was perfectly normal to refer to this blend as "Afro-Cuban jazz," although the music was absolutely for dancing. Into the '50s, the Latin big-band era in New York City found favor with dancers and listeners alike, and the bands of Puerto Rican (or "Nuyorican") bandleaders such as Tito Rodríguez and Tito Puente were fervently committed to playing Cuban music—from the son to the mambo, the cha-cha-chá and beyond. Meanwhile, on the island of Puerto Rico, most popular groups also concentrated on the Cuban rhythms until groups such as the conjunto of Rafael Cortijo (along with singer Ismael Rivera) got the island's dancers moving to their own genres such as the bomba and the plena. Back in New York, the '50s-era Latin big bands soon fell out of favor, and smaller groups emerged, including Cuban style charanga orchestras, trombone-heavy conjuntos and everything in between. In the mid-1960s, Dominican flutist, composer and producer Johnny Pacheco founded the Fania label (bank-rolled by Italian-American lawyer/producer Jerry Massucci), which was exclusively dedicated to recording "tropical Latin" music. With Cuba now being cut off from the United States politically as well as culturally, it was no longer possible to use the term "Afro-Cuban" or anything else related to Cuba, for that matter. It soon came to pass that the word "salsa" emerged as a clever marketing tool, not only for the music, but for the entire...
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