ALEX WILSON: Salsa Con Soul (Label:

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ALEX WILSON: Salsa Con Soul

Alex Wilson is arguably the hardest working man in the UK music biz. Over the years the genial piano man has gigged all over the place and with a wide range of artists and bands but he’s always stayed loyal and true to his abiding passion – salsa, and on this, Wilson’s sixth album, that passion still burns fiercely – and as the titling indicates – with a real soul commitment. Musically, ‘Salsa Con Soul’ continues and develops the themes of his previous LP, ‘Inglaterra’. That’s to say, the rhythms of Cuba, Colombia and Puerto Rica still dominate but each piece is embellished with elements of soul and gospel – most noticeably on the two big covers, Al Green’s ‘Let’s Stay Together’ and Randy Crawford’s ‘Rio De Janeiro Blue’. The former, featuring the powerful vocals of Naomi Phillips, is set to become of the year’s big jazz dance-floor fillers, emulating the success of Alex’s version of ‘Ain’t Nobody’. Where that one was wild – even abandoned – this one’s smooth, even stately, but the more danceable for that very tightness. Aquilla Fearon takes lead vocal on ‘Rio De Janeiro Blue’ and it really is a late night tune with fine trombone flourishes from Alistair White. Those cuts are two of seven English language songs on the album and of the rest ‘Memories’ is particularly strong. Here the vocals are courtesy of Wayne Ellington and a certain Mr. S Wonder, I’m sure, would be proud of the end product. Bigger and brasher is the opener, ‘You’re Fine’. Aquilla Fearon takes lead vocal again, bringing a huge vitality to the song while Naomi Phillips’ ‘Stronger’ – though slower – is inspirational too. The three most traditional Salsa numbers are ‘Sabroson’ and ‘Mi Buenaventura’ (both featuring Colombian singer Elpido Caicedo) and the full-on instrumental ‘Antonio’ – on which Wilson briefly takes centre stage himself and in that “briefly” lies, I think, the secret of this album’s success. Yes, this is Wilson’s album but he doesn’t dominate. Rather he works like an alchemist – bringing in and distilling the best from all kinds of elements and players to create his own special soulful, salsa magic. For more information go to
(BB) 4/5