Press-Republican

August 22, 2013

'Salsa Norteña' still hot, hot, hot

By ROBIN CAUDELL Press-Republican
Press-Republican

---- — PLATTSBURGH — The 12th Independent Music Award’s Latin Vox Pop (People’s Choice) Award was decided after 65,000 votes.

Dr. Rick Davies walked away the winner with his salsa and Latin-jazz masterpiece, “Salsa Norteña.”

“I don’t know how many I got (votes),” said Davies, who is a professor of music at SUNY Plattsburgh. “It’s a global award.”

His first music award ever (there were a scattering of pre-Grammy nominations), Davies received his first congratulations from his brother, Keith, who lives in Denver.

Davies checked his email and found a formal congrats from the Independent Music Awards, “a prestigious international program that connects top ranked artists to new audiences and revenue opportunities,” according to the agency’s press release.

“They give you a lot of promotion, press,” Davies said. “They put your music on thousands of jukeboxes. I get royalties from the jukeboxes, any kind of air play or streaming. They promote the nominees, but they promote the winners more.”

The IMA artist- and industry-judging panel included Tom Waits, Meshell Ndegeocello, Pete Wentz, Suzanne Vega, Ziggy Marley, G. Love, Anthony DeCurtis (“Rolling Stone”), Kevin Lyman (Warped Tour) and Colleen Fischer (“Austin City Limits Live”).

Davies was nominated in two categories, including Best Latin Song for “Baile de Amor” (“Dance of Love”).

A composer and trombonist, Davies has performed with icons in Latin, jazz, pop and Caribbean music. He was music director for the legendary salsa band Wayne Gorbea and Salsa Picante. 

On the Adirondack Coast, Davies founded the all-star Jazzismo and most recently, the Thugtets. At the college, he directs the Plattsburgh State Jazz Ensemble and Mambo Combo. Davies received his doctorate in 1999 from New York University. His dissertation-turned-book, “Trompeta: Chappottín, Chocolate, and the Afro-Cuban Trumpet Style,” was published by Scarecrow Press in 2003.

At the college, Davies has served as chair of the Music Department and is the recipient of the SUNY Chancellors Award for Scholarship and Creative Activities.

Chip Boaz in “The Latin Jazz Corner Magazine” wrote: “trombonist Rick Davies shows a deep understanding of salsa and an innate ability to apply those aesthetics to Latin Jazz on the energetic and highly danceable release Salsa Norteña.”

In describing his unique trombone style, Raul da Gama of the Latin Jazz Network wrote: “His beautiful burnished tone and bronzed colours are accompanied by some of the finest smears and growls that so uplift his instrument that he is elevated to the top echelons of it.”

For “Salsa Norteña,” Davies tapped Jorge “Papo” Ross (vocals), Alex Stewart (saxophone), Tom Cleary (piano), John Rivers (bass), Jeff Salisbury (percussion), Steve Ferraris (percussion), Neville “Pichi” Ainsley (conguero), Ray Vega (trumpet) and Jonathan Maldonado (drummer).

The disc features eight Davies’ originals, a tribute to salsa dura, a style popular in 1970s New York.

“The album came out last July,” Davies said. “There are four vocal songs. My co-writer is lyricist Fernando Iturburu, a professor of Spanish at Plattsburgh State. He is a poet from Ecuador. When I finished it, I knew it was the best one I’ve done. It was my third album. Every song on it was good. Usually, there are one or two songs not at the same level. I had a great time. I recorded mostly in Montreal.”

He snagged Grammy-nominated recording engineer Ricky Campanelli.

“It has really professional sound,” Davies said.

Davies brought Campanelli and Ross to Lane Gibson Studio in Charlotte, Vt.

“Ray Vega was the guest artist on the stuff we did in Vermont,” Davies said. “He’s a great player. They’re all great players. They are either from Montreal or Vermont. I’m the only one from Northern New York, but I’m the boss.”

Email Robin Caudell:rcaudell@pressrepublican.com

TO BUY WHAT: "Salsa Norteña" WHERE: Baxter's Bagels, 22 Brinkerhoff St., Plattsburgh. ON THE WEB: Available at Amazon.com, www.cdbaby.com and iTunes.