By Jorge J. Muñiz Ortiz
San Juan, Sep 8 (EFE).- Puerto Rican veteran bandleader and singer Gilberto Santa Rosa launched a new album Thursday that includes salsa-based adaptations of songs previously released by other acclaimed recording artists.
Titled “Debut y Segunda Tanda,” it consists of three previously unreleased songs and five reinterpretations of tracks that Santa Rosa admires, including “For Sale” by Spanish singer and composer Alejandro Sanz and Colombian singer-songwriter Carlos Vives.
“The record was born of the idea of doing something fresh and different,” the 60-year-old said in an interview with Efe at his office in San Juan’s upscale beachfront Ocean Park community.
Released under the B2B Music label, the album aims to show that “us old guys still have something to say” and that most importantly the “vitality” is still there, Santa Rosa, nicknamed “El Caballero de la Salsa” (The Gentleman of Salsa), added.
“I feel good, active, current, creative and, I don’t like to boast, but I feel like I’m singing better than before,” said the veteran bandleader, whose 40-year career includes stints in the 1980s with the orchestras of Tommy Olivencia and Willie Rosario.
The three previously unreleased songs on “Debut y Segunda Tanda” are “Cartas sobre la mesa,” composed by Cuban recording artist Mucho Manolo; and “Quien no ha llorado solo” and “En defensa propia,” both written by Santa Rosa and Cuba’s Juan Jose “Juanchi” Hernandez.
Besides “For Sale,” the other covers are of Willy Chirino’s “El tren del olvido,” Septeto Acarey’s “Enamorate bailando,” Grupo Bahia’s “Me cogio la noche” and Juanchi Hernandez’s “Bailando a tu son.”
Santa Rosa said of “En defensa propia” that he was responsible for the lyrics and chorus but also received songwriting support from Hernandez, a key collaborator who has composed some of his previous works such as “Conteo regresivo.”
“Juanchi is a tailor. I give him a piece of fabric and he makes a magnificent suit,” Santa Rosa said of a composer who also has crafted songs such as El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico’s “Arroz con Habichuela.”
In “Debut y Segunda Tanda,” Santa Rosa said he wanted to go back to recording songs and stories with the themes – love and romance, heartbreak and spite – that have marked his career.
Santa Rosa recalled launching his career as a soloist in the late 1980s at the height of “erotic salsa,” which at the time was criticized for its sexually suggestive lyrics.
But he said that sub-genre should not be compared to the work of contemporary urban recording artists.
“The ballads back then were erotic and even daring, but now (reggaeton) is much more graphic,” the veteran recording artist said.
Santa Rosa also will be releasing a deluxe edition of “Debut y Segunda Tanda” in October featuring a pair of collaborations with other singers, although he has not yet revealed who those guest artists will be. EFE