The Bottom Line
- Dual-disc set divided into 1 for salsa, 1 for ballads (for the same price)
- Salsa CD has pleasing, mixed set of rhythms and styles
- Santa Rosa's ballad style is old-fashioned, but satisfying
- Dual-disc release a study in contrasts (hence the name)
- 8 tracks of salsa on one CD; 9 tracks of pop ballads on the other
- Released by Sony Norte
Guide Review - CD Review: Gilberto Santa Rosa - Contraste
Gilberto Santa Rosa comes from a long tradition of salseros, having paid his dues early in his career as lead singer for iconic, traditional salsa bands like El Gran Combo and that of Willie Rosario. But he's also an old-hand with romantic ballads; for instance, 2002's ViceVersa was an all-ballad release that was well received by the Latin community.
Last year's Directo Al Corazon mixed it up; it was a combination of romantic ballads and his signature salsa. On Contraste, he once again plays in both ballparks only, this time, one CD is all ballads, the other all salsa. This appoach works well: if you're in the mood for one or the other, you pick your CD accordingly.
And both CDs are satisfying. The pop/ballad songs are romantic, arranged with a rich, orchestral back-up. Santa Rosa understands how to deliver romance with nuanced, lyrical interpretations of good material.
"Conteo Regresivo" ends the ballad CD and the same song starts its salsa twin. (There are only 2 other crossover tracks, "Pensado En Ti" and "No Te Vayas".) On the second disc, Santa Rosa brings home the salsa like few others. Some of the tracks are in the salsa style he's made his own, but there are some surprises, like the hot, mambo "Corazon", the flamenco-influenced "Raproche" or "Llego El Amor" that brings to mind early Willie Colon arrangements. All 8 tracks are sure to please salsa lovers.