Sonora Ponceña “10 para los 100″ CD Review

I love La Sonora Ponceña for the unique and melodic Salsa music sound they have produced through the years. That’s more than 55 years of Salsa music for this icon of Latin music. Not too many groups can claim such seniority. And through the whole journey its founder Don Quique Lucca has remained at the helm (at last in principle). His son Papo Lucca has been the de-facto leader of “La Ponceña” for most of the time I can remember the group.

This year Don Quique Lucca celebrated his 100th birthday and to commemorate the occasion, La Sonora Ponceña released their 35th album titled “10 para los 100″ (in reference to 10 songs to celebrate Don Quique’s 100 years).

One of the principal Salsa music bands during the Fania years, La Sonora Ponceña released “10 para los 100″ in January 2013 under Papo Lucca’s Pianissimo record label.

What I Liked About “10 para los 100″

  • Classic “Sonora Ponceña sound - in this album it’s evident that La Sonora Ponceña still preserves their great musicality. Papo Lucca continues to arrange with the same quality of always. A good example of this is the “moña” in “No Vale la Pena” which is very reminiscent of “classic” Sonora Ponceña of the 70′s with its great rhythmic swing and interweaving the sound of its 4 trumpets masterfully.

Don Quique Lucca and his son Papo Lucca on a recent photo for his 100th birthday.

  • Favorite songs - my favorite songs in “10 para los 100″ are “Te Busco en Suenos” (which is a mellow and very danceable Salsa song with a nice romantic theme and several “coros” through a lengthy 6+ minutes), “Fiel Trovador” (which is also a nicely romantic themed song that will entice dancers to the dance floor), and “Chambeleque” (a rumba-type son-montuno with conga solo).
  • Classy “soneo” – singer Hector “Pichie” Perez added a classy touch to the song “La Rumba Soy Yo” when he sang “…Jessie trajo su timbal, Angelito su bongo, Pequeño Johnny la tumba, y la rumba se formo”. Jessie and Little Johnny have not been part of La Ponceña for several years now, so it was nice of Pichie to remember them in a “rumbero” song.

What I Didn’t Like About “10 para los 100″

  • Need a new young voice - If it’s evident that La Sonora Ponceña still preserves their great musicality, it’s also evident here the need for a new singer in the group. Case in point is the song “La Pena”. Gee, even I can sing better than that! It’s terrible!

Pichie Perez has been the Sonora’s lead voice for many years, and although he’s not a super star singer, he is a very decent and respected “sonero”. But he needs help in the front line.
Again, I don’t have the liner notes, but whoever sang “Te Busco en Suenos” demonstrated that he belongs here (sings).

I think “La Ponceña” needs a young voice that can bring new energy to the Sonora Ponceña front line to help out Pichie. With so many artistic reality shows these days, I would suggest to Papo Lucca to pick a good Salsa singer from one of those shows, even if the person didn’t win. Having been a semi-finalist on one of Puerto Rico’s singing shows will be enough to bring quite a bit of attention to the group and a fresh voice that is so badly needed here.

  • Deficient song selection - possibly the main problem with this album is the selection of songs. Let’s start with “Los Zapatos de Mi Viejo”. The song is a well-deserved homage to Don Quique Lucca, but I’m not crazy about this song. I’ll say that after 55 years in the music scene, and Don Quique celebrating 100 years, he’s entitled to a homage song, even it’s a bit on the cheesy side. I’m OK with that. But please do not include 2 of these songs in the album, especially when they are the same song. The 2nd pass is a “jibaro” version, which I find almost identical to the “original”. I don’t like either!

Below is a video of the making of “Los Zapatos de Mi Viejo”. Again, a good homage to the 100’s birthday of Don Quique Lucca, but my question to you is…would you like to listen to this twice in an album?

Too many “rumbas” – there are 3 “rumbas” which are “La Rumba Soy Yo”, “Chambeleque”, and “Los Paparazzi”. One, maybe 2 “rumbas” would be enough. Three are too many.

Instrumental “filler” song – and with just 10 songs in the album, Papo Lucca includes an instrumental “Latin jazz” song. Why not give me another good Salsa song? With a solid Salsa album, you can afford to include an instrumental “Latin jazz” for a change of pace. But you can’t afford that with a 10 song album in which you repeated a song.

My Recommendation of “10 para los 100″

Sonora Ponceña's "10 para los 100"

As you can infer from my explanations above, I did not like this album and would not recommend it for you. La Sonora Ponceña still has their marquee sound, but the song selection killed this album. La Ponceña also needs a fresh voice in the group that can energize their front line.

Although I really like the Sonora Ponceña as a Salsa music band, this album was a disappointment for me.

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7 Responses to “Sonora Ponceña “10 para los 100″ CD Review”

  1. Believe it or not, I was actually waiting and hoping for this review from you.

    I love la Sonora Ponceña’s sound and arrangement styles.

    I have to agree with you here though, and I was hoping you might have convinced me otherwise.

    While each song on its own is fine, as a whole it tends to get pretty ‘old’ and ‘tired’ fairly quickly.

    Excellent observatory points you made, as usual.

    • Hi George! I think anyone that likes Salsa music likes La Sonora Ponceña. But this album missed the mark. They could have mitigated the singer issue by just using two singers, Pichie and the other good one.

      Have only one version of “Los Zapatos de Mi Viejo” and 2 good Salsa songs in place of “La Pena” and “Los Paparazzi” and we would’ve had a nice album. Too bad, because they still sound great!

  2. I have been a Sonora follower since the 1970′s and if you know the Sonora, in each album they always include an instrumental number so that’s a given and Papo Lucca being a great Jazz musician he always deliver…some are good, some are better . The things on what I agree is that the song selection could have been better, especially they could have saved us from another rendition of the same song with “Zapatos”. Also, “La Rumba Soy Yo” is an older song that they recorded on 1988 for the album “On The Right Track”. Why did they placed an old recording on a new album I don’t know unless they were really short on new songs which kind of sucks for a group of this caliber. Also, I think Hector “Pichie” Perez, whom has never been of my favorite singers, should retire. His vocals are forced and he sound like he’s yelling all the time. If you compare La Rumba which is an older recording with the new renditions you will realize what I mean. Anyway, I am a bit disappointed with this album and it feels like the best days of the classical salsa are long gone that they don’t feel they need to put out a better product.

    • Hi Jorge,
      You make some good points regarding La Sonora Ponceña. Yes, they do always include an instrumental Latin jazz song. I just thought that since they did twice “Los Zapatos”, they might have wanted to skip the Latin jazz this time.

      I also like point on observation regarding “La Rumba Soy Yo”. The Sonora Ponceña’s “On the Right Track” was an album I missed since it was during a slow period in the Sonora’s musical history. I will check out the original version to compare! That’s for that pointer!

      Regarding Hector “Pichie” Perez, I agree that he tends to yell a lot. When he makes comments during his songs, he can’t help but sound like a guy selling “pasteles” in the public plaza! He does tend to yell. That said, I do consider him a decent sonero, even if he doesn’t have a gifted voice. Pichie knows Salsa, respects the “clave”, and can come up with some creative soneos for the recordings (not as creative when improvising). I think he’s a keeper for the Sonora, but they need to find some other singers soon!

      Thanks for reading! Pls make sure to subscribe to our email notifications, “Like” us in Facebook, and follow us in Twitter (@hectoraviles).

      Saludos!

  3. angelcortesclass May 21, 2013 at 10:16 pm Reply

    TREMENDA PAJINA,PUES ESO ES ALGO DE LOS BORICUAS,Y MAS QUE SOY DE SANTURCE,ESTO ES “PA QUE AFINQUE”!!!!!!

    • Gracias Angel! Espero te guste Latino Music Cafe. La Sonora Ponceña decepciono con este ultimo album, pero aun mantiene su sonido. Espero que se recuperen en el proximo album. Sigunos en Facebook!

      Saludos!

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  1. Latino Music Album: Tromboranga's "Al Mal Tiempo Buena Salsa" Review | Latino Music Cafe - June 15, 2013

    [...]  Good Old Salsa music - as I said, this is Salsa music the way it was meant to be played. It has good swing, with mostly original songs but with some of the musical clips taken from some old songs. The songs have 2 “coros”, and at times a 3rd “coro” is made by shortening the 2nd “coro” to give the song more dynamism and “ajite”. The trombones do 2 or sometimes 3 lines of melodies within a “mambo”. There are solos of conga, timbal, trombones (something badly missing in the previous recording as I pointed out on my review of “Tromboranga”) and even a piano solo (something not see very often other than in Papo Lucca’s Sonora Ponceña). [...]

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