Gilberto Santa Rosa’s “Irrepetible”

Just in time for summer, veteran salsero Gilberto Santa Rosa offers up a well produced collection of salsa numbers, arranged by the much-respected José M. Lugo, who is also at the piano on this project. The band, made up of top pros like Edwin Colón Zayas, Héctor “Pichie” Prez, Jorge Rodríguez and Alex “Apolo” Ayala, among others, does a fine job here. Santa Rosa is one of our last true salseros, someone who can pick up a sheet of music and improvise with abandon. But on the polished Irrepetible it’s Santa Rosa’s voice, its range and tone, that is the true center of these compositions. And that range is great, reflected, too, in the range of special guests that appear on the project. Whether it is a duet with the young Puerto Rican singer Kany García, or the pan-Caribbean feel of his collaboration with Johnny Ventura, or the funky horn-framed “Me Cambiaron las Preguntas” that features none other than Ruben Blades, Santa Rosa rises to each occasion with apparent ease; he’s the statesman of salsa. Other guests include Felipe “Pipe” Peláez as well as the Venezuelan group Guaco.

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