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Willie Colon

Biography

Willie Colon was there during the 1960s when Salsa, as it eventually became known, was in its developing stages. As part of a young generation of "Nuyoricans" (Puerto Ricans from New York City) along with Eddie Palmieri and Ray Baretto, he helped create this new, vibrant form of music based on the Cuban "conjunto" sound. As a trombone player, he shaped the gritty, aggressive sound of the brass that characterized the New York sound. His first record introduced him to the scene as "El Malo" (the bad one) -- a reputation he often lived up to -- while he in turn introduced to the public two of the greatest singers in Salsa history: Hector Lavoe and Ruben Blades. Rhythmically, Colon's music has always been rooted in the Cuban clave beat, full of up-front timbales and punctuating horns that build tension as the cowbell kicks in. Part of his everlasting appeal comes from lyrics that revel in street culture and the gangster image he projects; however, he must be credited with mixing Harlem soul and jazz into his dangerous Salsa.
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