, Salem, MA


April 24, 2014

Salsa spirit

Dance party will benefit Jazz & Soul Festival

Warning: Listening to salsa can be habit-forming.

“Salsa is party music and dance music,” said Matt Jenson of Combo Sabroso. “You can get addicted to Latin dancing and go out six nights a week.”

Jenson’s band, whose name means “tasty combo,” will appear in Ames Hall at the Salem YMCA on Saturday. The concert is a benefit for the free Salem Jazz and Soul Festival, which will be held in August and is staffed by volunteers.

Combo Sabroso will play salsa dura, a brand of the music that dominated Latin markets in the 1970s, before it was eclipsed in popularity in the ’90s by salsa romantica.

“Salsa romantica is sappy ballads, all very smooth lyrics, often about love stories,” said Jenson, who teaches piano at Berklee College of Music. “It’s heavily produced, with a lot of reverb.”

His preference for salsa dura was enhanced when he spent a week studying with Eddie Palmieri, one of the style’s pioneers.

“Dura is raw, from the bottom of the earth,” he said. “There’s a different swing to it. ‘Here’s the congos — we’re going to play really hard.’ It’s like you’re getting hit in the stomach, but pleasantly so.”

Manolo Miarena, a native Costa Rican who lives in Worcester, will play congos for the combo on Saturday.

Cuban-born Yaure Muniz, who is also a member of the Afro-Cuban All Stars and appeared in recordings from the film “Buena Vista Social Club,” will play trumpet. Winston Maccow, a Berklee faculty member who works with Jenson in another band, Liquid Revolution, will play bass.

Percussionist Pablo Bencid is an original member of the band and covers a lot of ground with his drums.

“He plays with a drum kit he calls ‘the ranch,’ because it’s a drum set, but with timbales and conga,” Jenson said.

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