Échale Salsita

Totó la Momposina

Released 30 September 2022

  1. Échale Salsita

Liner notes

Early in 1997 Totó la Momposina and her manager/producer John Hollis left Bogotá for Havana on a mission to locate the legendary Cuban singer Celina Gonzalez. Whilst in the UK in 1996 they had been approached by London’s Barbican Centre to produce and curate a Colombian festival. Having enlisted London promoter Andy Wood of Como No! they went on to create together ‘Colores de Colombia’, the first major Colombian event in the capital. It was a departure for The Barbican who, like other British theatre venues, were beginning to turn their attention to music from around the world in addition to the usual programming fare of classical and jazz. The team brought several bands over from Colombia and sourced local talent for a 3 day festival of concerts and workshops on several stages. Totó herself was asked to be the headliner and the Barbican had requested she invite a special guest hence the trip in search of her Cuban soul sister.

After they had met with Celina, John wanted to head for the beach but Totó persuaded him to accept an invitation they had received the night before from a young musician who, appearing out of nowhere, knocked on the door of their guest house. 20 minutes later they sat down in the front room of a house in the Buenavista Playa neighbourhood, with 7 musicians who proceeded to rip through their set. Both of them were knocked out by the quality of the songwriting and deep rooted sound. Here were young guys who understood the son tradition of their forefathers (at a time when it was unfashionable music to play) and infused it with fresh energy and intelligent arrangements. When they’d finished Totó stood up and announced her manager would take them to Europe! And that’s exactly what happened. It’ll soon be 25 years since Asere’s first album and tour. During that time the contact with Totó and family has stayed constant.

Celina was delighted to be invited and the resulting show some months later sold out! Totó and Celina, two powerhouses of latin music, singing together, made for a special moment. In fact the Barbican were so happy they then commissioned a Cuban festival and in 1999 Asere’s image on huge festival posters was plastered all over London.

In 1998 Totó was on tour in Spain with her band. They had a few days off in Madrid so John booked some studio time to explore a few ideas. Totó, being a massive Cuban music fan, had previously contracted Orbe Ortiz, a talented young musician from Santiago de Cuba, to work with her on developing Colombian son (originating from San Basilio de Palenque). Orbe, tres player and arranger, seconded a selection of Cuban musicians who happened to be staying in the same hotel, along with some of Toto’s band led by Edgar Gutierrez, Toto’s bassist at the time, and off they went to the studio. Totó wanted to sing the classic ‘Echale Salsita’ so down it went, after a quick warm up, in one take, Toto’s performance being characteristically impressive.

The track sat on the shelf unfinished for years until 2021 when John and Michel Padron, Asere trumpet player and musical director, decided it was a good time to revisit it. The Asere musicians, at this point a larger band, due to the demands of big US tours, then proceeded to record a fuller arrangement led by Michel, Toto’s voice and Edgar’s bass remaining from the original session. For Asere, knowing that Toto’s career was soon to end, it was a task they took on lovingly, an opportunity to give back to the singer that opened the doors for them in 1997. When Totó heard the completed song, in the summer of 2021, she was thrilled, straight up out of her seat dancing and laughing, bouncing off the walls.

Message from Asere:

Decir “Asere” es mirar el paso del tiempo a través de 25 años de creaciones, entrega, sacrificios, ovaciones y muchas otras cosas, pero es también sentir que entre los pilares con los que empezamos a construir aquel sueño (hoy materializado) estaba esta Dama de la música universal que es nuestra Totó. Y decimos nuestra porque aun cuando quizás ella no lo sabe, la consideramos como parte imborrable de una historia que nunca va a terminar. Este son, cubano, con sabor a tierra y olor a caña, es el mayor homenaje que Asere puede hacer a esta defensora de la música tradicional Colombiana y amante incondicional de la música Cubana.

Ahi tienes Toto!!!

Listen

Credits

Written by Ignacio Piñeiro
Produced by John Hollis
Musical direction Michel Padron
Arranged by Orbe Ortiz, Edgar Gutierrez and Michel Padron
Lead vocals Totó la Momposina & Ricardo ‘Piki’ Fernandez
Backing vocals Oriana Melissa Hollis, Jenny Padron, Eney Aranda, Daniel Carnago, Paolo Hollis
Bass Edgar Gutierrez
Timbal Osvaldo Hernandez
Bongos, Congas & Hand Percussion Eney Aranda
Violins Jenny Padron
Trumpet/Trombone Michel Padron
Electric Guitar Nedule Montswet
Spanish Guitar/Tres Daniel Carnago

Recorded in Madrid, Valencia, Las Palmas, Spain and Bristol, London and Glasgow, UK.
Engineered, mixed and mastered by Leandro Serraino in Barcelona, Spain.

Further Listening

  • Iluminan Mi Sendero / Acompañala

    Totó la Momposina

    Released 30 September 2022

    Iluminan Mi Sendero / Acompañala includes two tracks based on a recording Totó made in a studio in Paris back in 1996. ‘Acompañala’ is a song she wrote inspired by a moonlight stroll on the beach near the village of Rio Cedro on the Caribbean coast of Colombia.
  • Tambolero

    Totó la Momposina

    Released 25 June 2015

    You don't normally get the chance to go back in time and reimagine a classic album like La Candela Viva but creating Tambolero has been a challenge and a delight. It’s become a celebration of Totó's career: six decades dedicated to preserving, researching and developing an ancestral tradition, the identity of a people, passed down through the generations. 

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