May 27, 2015

Ola Fresca | Elixir

ARTIST: Ola Fresca
TITLE: Elixir
Cuban-American singer-songwriter-bandleader Jose Conde has been putting his personal spin on a variety of Latin pop and dance music genres for the last decade, both as a solo artist (his 2011 eponymous solo album was a standout) and fronting his combo Ola Fresca. This time around, Conde jumps with both feet into a classic NYC 1970’s salsa sound -- the band is now fronted by two trombones plus trumpet and backed with piano, bass and two percussionists. The bone-heavy midsized-group configuration immediately calls Willie Colon to mind, and indeed the music has push-and-pull propulsion of Colon’s best material; Conde cites El Gran Combo and Ismael Rivera as influences as well. But this is far from a Fania Records tribute band – six songs are originals, the three covers come from the indie-Latin world, and the arrangements (all by Conde) are filled with contemporary Cuban timba elements. Conde isn’t a belter, he’s an intimate singer and his low-key voice is ideal for putting across his thoughtful lyrics. This is contemporary salsa of the first order: if you dig Bio Ritmo or Orquesta SCC (the former La Excelencia), don’t miss Ola Fresca’s Elixir.
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