Latin jazz took hold in the Bay Area during the 1950s and '60s through the work of such resident players as Cal Tjader, Benny Velarde, Carlos Federico, the Duran brothers (Carlos, Eddie, and Manny), and the Escovedo brothers (Pete and Coke) and via dances/concerts by visiting bandleaders like Tito Puente of New York and Perez Prado of Mexico City. Musicians of many ethnicities and nationalities — black, white, Mexican, and Panamanian, among them — joined together to create a California take on a sound rooted in the Cuban branch of the African diaspora.
Salsa, a highly danceable variant on the genre, showed up locally during the 1970s, particularly at Cesar's Latin Palace in San Francisco. Trombonist and arranger Wayne Wallace cut his teeth as Cesar's and today rivals only Oakland percussionist John Santos as the leading local proponent of Latin jazz. For Salsa de la Bahía, Wallace has assembled a vibrant, wonderfully rhythm-charged 2-disc, 22-track compilation on his own Patois label that features 13 of the area's finest current groups. They range in style from the horn-punched frenzy of Velarde's Super Combo and Edgardo & Candela to the flute-and-fiddles-led elegance of Orquesta la Moderna Tradición and the more experimental sounds of Santos' Machete Ensemble and sextet. Many of the musicians — including flautist John Calloway, saxophonist Melecio Magdaluyo, bassist David Belove, and percussionist Michael Spiro — turn up in several different bands, providing further evidence of how cross-pollination continues to fuel the local Latin scene. (Patois)