Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Salsa Clasica [Music Club, 2000]
Licensed from the Miami-based Kubaney label, this "taste of classic Latin flavors" barely dips into Nuyorican salsa, which eliminates a lot of distractions--star turns, crossover dreams, big-band penis envy, shows of force in which moonlighting jazz hotshots do their damnedest to play the same notes better than the guy in the next chair. Merengue mainstay Johnny Ventura is the big name, and his two tracks find him in a trad mood--he even offers up a guajira. With compiler John Armstrong keeping things subtle, trad comes naturally to such journeymen as Machito-Puente pianist Luis Varona, tres lifer Jorge Cabrera, Dominican speedster Pochy. Garnished just enough, clave is the main course. A-