The combo played only salsa during its early years, but Jenson’s passions started to overlap, and the band now includes reggae tunes in its program.
“I’m a gringo who learned from them how to play Latin music,” he said. “The Latinos wanted to learn how to play reggae. It just came together naturally. It’s pretty unique.”
This cross-fertilization has also led to some interesting experiments and original sounds.
“It creates something new,” Jenson said. “Not that you would call it a new form of music. But Pablo, his interpretation of playing reggae is a unique reggae.
“Manolo will take something he plays on conga while he’s playing a reggae — he’ll play timbale on top of a reggae groove. That’s a new sound.”
IF YOU GO
What: Combo Sabroso, benefit dance party for Salem Jazz and Soul Festival
When: Saturday, April 26, 8 to 10:30 p.m., doors open at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Ames Hall, Salem YMCA, 290 Essex St., Salem
Tickets & info: Tickets $25. Available online at salemjazzsoul.org or in person at Pamplemousse and In a Pig’s Eye in Salem.