Described by its label as "Harlem's answer to Cuba's Buena Vista Social Club," Un Gran Día actually transcends its barrio roots.
Described by its label as "Harlem's answer to Cuba's Buena Vista Social Club," Un Gran Día actually transcends its barrio roots. Not merely Harlem's answer to Buena Vista, it exemplifies the New York salsa sound developed in the '50s, '60s, and '70s: brash, loud and aggressive, heavy on the metals (with prominent trombones), and heavy on jazz-influenced improvisation. Un Gran Día can also be simply beautiful, notably in "Obsesión," a classic bolero offset by jazzy improvisation; a more traditional descarga can be heard on the instrumental "Tambori," while Willie Colón's fast-clipped "La Banda" is a straight-ahead, relentless salsa. When all is said and done, Un Gran Dia works simply because the ensemble is outstanding, and the soloists—many of them long overlooked—superb. And while the elements are there to make it a nostalgia piece, it is, thankfully, too dynamic to be only that.—LC