The Art of Salsa

The Art of Salsa

The sun’s out and it’s the season of salsa. No, not the kind you eat (although that would be welcome on a sunny day in May, too)—we’re talking about music. Specifically, the style of Afro-Cuban music that conjures up good times and summer getaways.

This Cinco de Mayo, our Seaport Salsa Night will feature group salsa (dance) lessons, taco and tequila specials from Malibu Farm, and a live performance by local salsa band Grupo Centeno. The group’s musicians have played with some of salsa’s iconic performers, including Celia Cruz and Frankie Ruiz. Here, the band’s singer, Miguel Centeno, shares more about the art form he and Grupo Centeno are so passionate about.

What makes salsa so special?

For me, it’s the intoxicating combination of the instruments and the messaging/storytelling in the lyrics. Together, they make you feel like dancing and singing simultaneously.

Which instruments are essential for a great salsa band?

Vocals (salsa singers are typically called soneros), piano, trumpet, trombone, double bass, congas, bongos, timbales, and cowbell.

Who are some of the legends of salsa you admire most?

Ooh, there are so many! But my top legends are: Hector Lavoe; Gran Combo de Puerto Rico; Frankie Ruiz; Tito Rojas; and Cano Estremera. We honor these giants in our song list!

How and when did Grupo Centeno meet?

I serve on the Board of the American Diabetes Association, and about four years ago, I met one of the musicians through the spouse of one of the other volunteers. He, in turn, connected me to another musician, who is our musical director. The rest of the team fell into place after that.

How would you describe Grupo Centeno’s style of salsa?

Very polished and high quality! Our crowds can expect a fun time. We love what we do and so will those who come to join us.

What are your top five salsa songs of all time?

Periodico de Ayer – Hector Lavoe

Mi Desengaño – Roberto Roena 

Mujer Celosa – Gran Combo de Puerto Rico

La Boda de Ella – Cano Estremera

La Cura – Frankie Ruiz

Salsa fans will readily recognize these songs. If you’re hearing them for the first time, you’ll immediately hear why they are classics. Grupo Centeno will play these and more at the Seaport—come join us and dance the night away at Seaport Salsa Night!