They’re ordering hits with a side of salsa!
A Williamsburg band is attempting to revive the salsa music that was popular in 1960s and ’70s New York by infusing modern indie-rock song with Latin rhythms and hot horn lines, the group’s lead said.
“The goal is to expand the salsa genre and help bring it back to life,” said Gianni Mano, bandleader of the 10-piece Williamsburg Salsa Orchestra, which will play a free show at the Central Library on April 30 as part of the Central Brooklyn Jazz Festival.
Mano said he started the band five years ago after hearing the song “My Girls” by experimental four-piece Animal Collective and thinking it would make a great yambu — a style of Cuban rumba. So he wrote an arrangement for that song as well as ones from TV on the Radio, Camera Obscura, and others and recorded a demo. Friends and music blogs gave their thumbs up, so he put a band together and started organizing live shows.
It may sound like a strange stylistic fusion, but Mano said today’s indie bands capture the spirit of the salsa scene in its heyday.
“While much of modern salsa has grown formulaic, the indie scene was still ‘anything goes’ and so it seemed like a good match,” he said.
The orchestra, which has a monthly residency at Brooklyn Bowl, includes vocals, piano, bass, three percussionists, and four or five horns, said Mano, who plays timbales in the group.
At the Central Library performance, Mano said the band will play re-imagined covers of “Lonely Boy” by the Black Keys, “L.E.S. Artistes” by Santigod, and “Cheated Hearts” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. He said you may have heard these songs before — but you’ve never heard them like this.
“If you haven’t heard a big salsa orchestra in a while, or ever, you will be amazed at the power and subtlety of the band,” Mano said.
“Central Brooklyn Jazz Festival: Williamsburg Salsa Orchestra” at the Central Library [10 Grand Army Plaza between Eastern Parkway and Flatbush Avenue in Prospect Heights, (718) 230–2100, www.bklyn