(NORTH ADAMS, Mass.) – MASS MoCA’s Hunter Center becomes the site of a Latin explosion on Saturday, November 5, 2011, as La Excelencia brings its young outlook to the energizing sound of Salsa Dura. This self-proclaimed “New Generation of Salsa Dura” rehashes classic salsa from the 1970s, maintaining the genre’s traditions while expanding upon its sound. They arrive with a history of spotlight performances, including Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night Swing series and a concert at Barbican Hall in London for a BBC Latin Music USA television program.
The dance party kicks off with instruction by Jacob’s Pillow funded in part by the Irene Hunter Fund for Dance at MASS MoCA.
Salsa Dura (hard salsa), also known as Salsa Gorda (fat salsa), resembles the sounds of classic Fania recording artists like Tito Puente, Celia Cruz, Willie Colon and countless others who defined this musical era. This particular style contrasts Salsa Romantica; rather than focusing on vocals, the spotlight is on the relentless beat of the overpowering percussion and horns. Characteristics of this blend of salsa include driving rhythms, call and response sections, and socially conscious lyrics.
La Excelencia cofounders Jose Vazquez Cofresi and Julian Silva were dissatisfied with the notions of salsa that their first record label was enforcing on them: wear uniforms, look sharp and sing to women, sing about love and refrain from protest, so they began their own record label, Handle With Care. Working with no limitations, La Excelencia produces an uncompromised sound of socially conscious, and, more importantly, infectious dance anthems that transport, audiences to a time and place when salsa was street music.
La Excelencia’s multinational team of musicians includes members from Puerto Rico, Columbia and Japan. The group emphasizes that all cultures meld into the group’s sound and that one ethnicity is not targeted, but rather the goal is to make music for all to enjoy. Conga player Jose Vazquez elaborates, “That’s why we call it salsa. It’s a mixture of everybody’s music. Why would you want to limit yourself?”
Drinks from the MASS MoCA bar, as well as dinner and snacks from Lickety Split, are available before and during all shows. Tickets for the Salsa Dura Dance Party with La Excelencia are $15 in advance and $19 day of show. Student and children’s tickets are $10. MASS MoCA members receive a 10% discount. Tickets are available through the MASS MoCA Box Office located off Marshall Street in North Adams, open from 11 AM – 5 PM every day but Tuesdays. Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 during Box Office hours or purchased online at MASS MoCA.
MASS MoCA, the largest center for contemporary visual and performing arts in the United States, is located off Marshall Street in North Adams on a 13-acre campus of renovated 19th-century factory buildings. MASS MoCA is an independent 501c(3) whose operations and programming are funded through admissions and commercial lease revenue, corporate and foundation grants, and individual philanthropy. Except for an initial construction grant from the Commonwealth, and competitive program and operations grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Cultural Council, MASS MoCA is privately funded: 90% of annual operating revenues are from earned revenues, membership support, and private gifts and grants.