La Excelencia

With one of the most breathtaking live shows in all of Latin music, La Excelencia, a hip, young New York ensemble has become one of the most sought after salsa orchestras in the world.


[audio:|artists=La Excelencia|titles=Salsa Dura]
  • Salsa Dura
  • New York, New York

From the Dean’s Desk »

Self-described as revolutionary warriors in the salsa world, La Excelencia is a New York-based group devoted to telling the stories of the people. They specialize in the harder, more intense salsa dura, compared to the more commercialized salsa romantica. It has the spicy vocals, blaring brass, and driving percussion of salsa, but with the edge you never thought possible.

Professional bio

New York City in the 1960s and 70s gave rise to salsa dura, or “hardcore salsa,” a driving, socially conscious dance music that in recent years has moved away from its community roots toward a smoother, more commercial sound. In 2005, a group of young, politically aware, New York musicians began to dramatically buck this trend and formed La Excelencia. The group has gained widespread acclaim for its embrace of salsa’s traditional elements – propulsive percussion, dynamic brass lines, and emphatic vocals – updated with fresh lyrical perspectives. Keeping the music firmly rooted in the barrio, La Excelencia has created one of the most electrifying live shows in all of Latin music.

Salsa has its roots are in New York’s Spanish-speaking neighborhoods (barrios). The music that came to be called salsa is a blend of Afro-Cuban and Puerto Rican rhythms and big band jazz. Its lively beats and political lyrics, defined by players like Willie Colón and Hector Lavoe, helped established an emerging Latino community consciousness eager to express itself in words and dance. La Excelencia channels the spirit of this golden age of salsa.

The group’s co-founders, Julián Silva (timbal) and Jose Vázquez-Cofresi (congas), incorporate the traditional Afro-Cuban fundamento, that essential rhythmic foundation at the heart of salsa dura. They write songs focused on contemporary Latino issues including poverty, immigration and the challenges of keeping Latino culture intact in the quest for the “American dream.” La Excelencia’s latest disc, Mi Tumbao Social, features songs that highlight the band’s own highly personalized tumbao, or beat. It has been hailed as one of the most refreshing examples of salsa dura in recent years, and propelled the group to the forefront of the salsa scene. La Excelencia is packing dance floors around the world, and recently drew over 20,000 to its show at New York’s Lincoln Center “Out Of Doors” series.

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