For years there has been a widespread use of the word “Salsa” to refer to just about any kind of Caribbean music, particularly Cuban Music. One of the best know and successful musicians of the “Salsa Age” Tito Puente; was quick to point out to a reporter that salsa was really (a commercial repackaging of Cuban Music), not Puente’s exact words, but close. I personally have always enjoyed his music and have been grateful that a musician of his stature was willing to call it right, “Cuban Music”. Within Cuban music there are several genres (Son, Son-Montuno, Danzon, Rumba, Guaracha, Bolero, Guajira, Cha-cha-cha) and the list goes on. The country was and still is a very creative source of lively danceable music.
Something mystical happened when the Africans and Europeans combined their respective traditions and musical heritage. Of the various rhythms created one of my favorites is the Son-Montuno. It has a very specific musical structure, which includes an up-tempo section and plenty of percussion; attributed to the creativity of Arsenio Rodriguez, a direct descendant of those Africans. He was a native of the town of Guira de Macuriges in my native Matanzas, Cuba. Proudly for me, he was also a friend of my grand-father; something I learned about just a few short years ago.
I have come to accept that people will keep calling it Salsa; but now you know what the ingredients are, who created it, what the name of the man and his town is. If Salsa music had exploded like an earthquake, then Guira de Macuriges is the Epicenter and Arsenio pushed the button.