Willie Colon

Anyone who saw the poorly received film El Cantante, the biography of singer Hector Lavoe starring Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez, knows that trombonist/band leader Willie Colon was Lavoe's longtime friend and collaborator. Working since the 1960s, the two men — along with others like Celia Cruz, Johnny Pacheco and Ruben Blades — helped to shape and establish the music now known as salsa. It's fair to say that Lavoe and Colon influenced each other as much as they did the genre, and that many of their joint projects were among the most important work either ever did (Lavoe sang on Colon's first album, El Malo; Colon arranged Lavoe's famous Comedia). Lavoe died in the early 1990s, while Colon has spent the last two decades becoming salsa's elder statesman; his 2008 album El Malo, Vol. 2: Prisioneros del Mambo was his first studio recording in a decade. At Colon's touring homage to Lavoe Friday, expect the Blades-penned "El Cantante," "La Murga," "Songoro Consongo" and "Che Che Colé." Don't expect Colon, now near 60, to have slowed down or mellowed. His performance should be just as furious and dynamic as ever.


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