Magazine article Americas (English Edition)

Sushi, Sake and Salsa

Magazine article Americas (English Edition)

Sushi, Sake and Salsa

Article excerpt

Since the early 1950s, world-touring Latin American musicians have returned home to the Western Hemisphere with rave reviews of their reception in the Orient, particularly Japan. By the 1970s, Japanese fascination with tropical sounds reached a fever pitch. Local bands began to perfect the Afro-Cuban beat, Latin music clubs sprouted throughout Tokyo and the city even boasted its own magazine devoted exclusively to the salsa movement.

Thus, it was only a matter of time before the Japanese would be tempted to take their brand of salsa to the most demanding audiences in the world, those in New York City and San Juan, Puerto Rico. In 1989, the 11 member band Orquesta de la Luz made its Big Apple debut, and what could have been just a momentary flirtation fanned by natural curiosity blazed into a genuine romance. The New Yorkers loved the Japanese band and their debut recording, Salsa Caliente Del Japon, quickly raced to the top of the Latin music charts.

When lead singer Nora came to New York in 1987 to learn Spanish, she could only fantasize that in just two years her band would be performing to sold out crowds in such temples of Latin music as the Palladium and Club Broadway. In 1991, Orquesta de la Luz returned for an encore and a historic performance that found Nora singing duets with the queen of Afro-Cuban music herself, the venerable Celia Cruz. …

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