CALI - SEPTEMBER 30 TO OCTOBER 4.
"Mission accomplished" for Cali. All the national and international artists who had promised to come were present.
Cali, the eternal “Sultan of the Valley”, adorned itself in Salsa and faithful to its reputation, danced and sang as the “cream of the crop” of the salsa world accompanied her, walking its festive streets.
On Thursday October 1st, there was excitement in the air, all throughout the city. The airplanes arrived at Alfonso Bonilla Aragon Airport, and artists like Ralphy Leavitt, Sammy Marrero, Willie Rosario, Junior González, José Bello, Ismael Miranda, Rey Ruiz, Nino Segarra, Papo Luca, Domingo Quiñones, Omar Alfano, Chamaco Rivera, Juan Carlos Alfonso & La Dan Den from Cuba arrived at the international terminal.
Businessmen, managers, booking agents, producers, composers, musicians, collectors and people generally associated with Salsa arrived at the "World Capital of Salsa".
The press conference took place at about 11am, in the impressive Pacific Valley Convention Center, located on the outskirts of the city. There was a large showing of media.
I must stop here and in front of all our readers admit my regret, because I asked the Master, Ralphy Leavitt, about the episode in which he had the car accident with trumpet player Luisito Maysonet, author of the song "Cuna Blanca", and the master, thirty years after that fateful accident, still has not gotten over it and while responding, on several occasions had to pause, to stop his tears, as he recalled that situation. Honestly, I felt bad, since this event was a big party and my question, in some way, tarnished the joy of Master Leavitt. I felt reckless. It is also true that after the press conference, Ralphy Leavitt approached me in the lobby of the Sheraton Hotel and told me that he could never forget the loss of Luisito and the circumstances surrounding the incident. On the contrary, everyday he remembers the incident and misses him even more. He also said something I will never forget. Although he has never mentioned the following to anyone, he allowed us to publish it in this article. During his sleep as he was in the coma caused by the accident, Leavitt often saw Luis. He would see him dressed in black and would angrily scold him for not wearing the uniform of their band “La Selecta”. Repeatedly he would see the “white crib”, until the day before Ralphy finally woke up, when he heard Luisito tell him that he was already a spirit and that from then on, he would help him and help the band. He never dreamt about him again. As he was telling his story, his eyes filled with tears, and honestly, I was very moved not only by his story, but also by his qualities and because of my admiration for his music and the mutual appreciation between the two that has developed over time.
All along, the artists agreed that Cali is the "World Capital of Salsa". They told stories about how they started. For example, Richie Ray stated that they are more popular in Colombia than in their own hometwon, Puerto Rico. Another reminded Domingo Quiñones of his brief boxing career, which “knocked him out”, as he was surprised that fans in Colombia knew about that.
During the evening we attended the 1st Sebastian de Belalcazar International Salsa Awards, a monumental event in the Alferez Real Convention Center, with live broadcast by Telepacífico TV and channels for 37 other countries. Jose Bello, Ismael Miranda, Domingo Quiñones, Rey Ruiz, Jimmy Saa, among others performed that night.
Let me share one detail with you. The organization of the event, in an act of generosity to the undersigned, saw it fit to award me the Sebastian de Belalcazar Award for Music Collector and for being the "Guardian of the Treasury of Records", an award that I share with the entire Americasalsa.com Team as well as with all of our readers.
That same night an award was given to the Master of Masters, Don Rafael Viera for a lifetime dedicated to discography and the great example that he sets as a person. That night Don Rafael was accompanied by his son Richie Viera. The awards comprised a total of 27 categories.
Then came Friday, the opening of the Collectors Exposition as well as the concert “Salsa A La Carte” at Pascual Guerrero Stadium. It was an unprecedented concert bringing together all the stars mentioned above. From Colombia, Grupo Galé, Son de Cali, Jimmy Saa and Los Angeles. The show included tremendous audio and a spectacular infrastructure including a revolving platform on stage. Attendance was good, although less than expected.
The Collectors Expo had begun, in the parking lot of the Plaza de Toros. More than 200 collectors gathered for the three days the Expo lasted. Music, photos, t-shirts, caps, musical instruments, books, etc., were all on display and for sale.
Important figures in the Salsa World visited, such as Nestor Galan from Puerto Rico, better known as “Búho Loco” (Crazy Owl), who is the host of one of the most listened to Puerto Rican radio shows. His program, on-going for 26 years, airs everyday from 10 am to 3 pm on Zeta 93. This gentleman was on stage to present several salsa classics. Similarly, Don Rafael Viera and his son were on stage to share with us the collection FANIA ALL STARS SAN JUAN 73, produced by Don Rafael. They presented to the public and the collectors there present, two songs: "El Raton” (The Mouse), in which we heard a gorgeous solo trumpet of the late brother of Richie Ray, Raymond "Ray" Maldonado. We recall that in the concert at Yankee Stadium in 1973, the guitar solo was performed by Jorge Santana, the brother of the legendary Carlos Santana. The other song, was a magnificent performance by Ismael Quintana of “Mi Debilidad” (My Weakness).
Present were other collectors associations such as Mundo Salsero from Bogota, Fuerza Latina from Cali, Bembe Cuyabro from Armenia, Son de la Loma from Cali, Golpe y Bembé from Bogota, El Tiple from Candelaria, El Cantante from Candelaria, Fortaleza Musical Foundation from Cali, Asosalsa from Villavicencio, Muralla de Bronce from Cali, Melopasto from Pasto, Acalibre from Cali, Familia Latina Cooadams from Cali, Asomelopal from Palmira, Salsa Caliente Internacional from Cali, Son y Salsa Piendamo, Salsa en Venezuela from Caracas, Son Changüi from Havana, Somos Latinos from Paris, Oye Mi Son from Barcelona, Estamos En Salsa from New Jersey and the International Federation of Collectors in addition to a rather large group independent collectors.
Also present, whether singing or accompanying the public at the Collectors Expo, were Ismael Miranda, Junior Gonzalez, the musicians of the Sonora Ponceña, Jose Bello, Mauricio Silva from Venezuela, and Luis Felipe González.
In conclusion, we definitely enjoyed a tremendous “Salsa banquet” as never seen before in Cali...
and rarely seen throughout the whole world!