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Salsa innovator

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NYC salsa band leader Joe Cuba dies at 78

By Laura N. Perez Sanchez, Associated Press Writer

SAN JUAN Salsa band leader Joe Cuba, dubbed the "Father of Latin Boogaloo" for weaving a fluid, bilingual mix of musical influences, died Sunday in New York City, a member of his group said. He was 78.

Born Gilberto Calderon in 1931 in New York to a family from Puerto Rico, the band leader and conga player helped change the sound of salsa in the 1960s, Feliciano said.

Until then, most popular salsa had been played by orchestras, he said. But Cuba led a six-member band with three singers who also played percussion and  danced a routine.

"He had a dynamic group," with a signature vibraphone-fronted sound that "caused a craze because it was different," Feliciano said. Albums such as 1966's Bang! Bang! Push, Push, Push incorporated elements of salsa, Latin jazz and R&B and featured lyrics in both English and Spanish.

Cuba, whose musical career took him on world tours, was inducted into the International Latin Music Hall of Fame and became director of the International Salsa Museum in New York's East Harlem.

The band leader's remains are expected to be interred in Puerto Rico.




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