che che cole

When it comes to salsa, I’ve always been biased towards the Nuyorican and Colombian salsa dura from the 70s. Understand: I learned about salsa in the seedy billares of Bogotá from a bunch of drunk dudes, dancing with their billiards sticks, singing out of tune: “Mete la mano en el bolsillo, saca y abre tu cuchillo, ten cuidao.” No salsa romántica there.


Back then, as a 15-year old, I considered myself a punk rocker – though I don’t think anyone noticed. I really didn’t want to like salsa, but there were some songs I could never get out of my head. One of them was Willie Colón’s “Che Che Cole”, from the album “Cosa Nuestra”. You’ll have no trouble finding the original recording in your nearby music store or on the internet. Here’s a great video from back in the day (with a little Bang Bang Lulu at the end, nice!)

I’d always heard that Che Che Cole was based on an old African tune, so I was psyched a couple of weeks ago when I stumbled upon this (Ghanian?) record which I knew nothing about, except that it had a track called ‘Che Che Kule’. For $4.50, why not?


Che Che Kule by Kumbi Saleh

Che Che Kule

Ok, that’s pretty cool too.
But do they have anything on these kids?

PS – As a bonus track: Here is an incredible recording of Willie Colón and Héctor Lavoe’s band (see Chapters 9-12) at their prime, courtesy of my teacher Louie Romero. He’s the timbalero in the bee outfit on the video, and also the timbalero on the ‘Cosa Nuestra’ record. (And also the corpse on the cover!) If you are lucky enough to be in the SF Bay Area like we are, go check out his current musical project ‘Mazacote’. Ataca, Romero! (This is where you plug into some good speakers or headphones if you have them.)

(On that same page you also get to see 1972 footage of Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Tito Puente, Taj Mahal, Earth, Wind & Fire, Max Roach, Ron Carter, … Massive thanks to thirteen!)


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