Lo Dice Todo album cover
Lo Dice Todo

Grupo Folklorico y Experimental Nuevayorquino

Salsoul Records

The first half of Salsoul’s genre-portmanteau origins isn’t as widely remembered as the latter, but even if the label’s salsa offerings tended to have relatively niche commercial appeal, they could push the boundaries of that sound every bit as much as the soul records did. Lo Dice Todo is the second LP from Andy and Jerry Gonzalez’s massive multi-generational ensemble Grupo Folklorico Y Experimental Nuevayorquino, and the supposedly-contradictory promises of both deep-rooted tradition and innovative exploration in that name are met with both scholarly knowledge and deep, learned experience. Serving as a deliberate break from what the Gonzalez brothers considered commercial Latin music’s increasing reliance on formula, their approach not only reconciled the regional rural origins and melting-pot big-city expansions of the music, but redrew its borders around an increasingly expansive world. And since the open-ended, momentum-shifting improvisational descarga jam sessions on this release drew in musicians from a wide variety of disciplines and backgrounds, that offers a perspective that’s well-represented by Puerto Rican bomba (“Cinco En Uno Callejero”), Cuban rumba (“La Mama”), Brazilian samba (“Ao Meu Lugar Voltar”), and the kind of origin-point Afro-Latin percussive folk (“Aguemimo”) that sounds so deeply timeless it seems to predate the concept of genre entirely. Lo Dice Todo was even singled out by the New York Times in 1977 as being a potential crossover success to help salsa “escape the cultural ghetto,” emphasizing its’ players’ virtuosity and eclecticism as a potential way to gain generalist listeners while retaining its Latin identity. But while it never really reached that next-big-thing level — and was the last LP the Grupo would cut as a unit — Lo Dice Todo is as good an entry point into the fundamentals of Afro-Cuban-rooted music as you could ask for.

Nate Patrin

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