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Pop Music Reviews : D'leon Sets Palace Ablaze With Salsa

September 18, 1987|VICTOR VALLE

Relentless, deliciously frenetic, an almost exhausting discharge of musical energy and showmanship--these descriptions neatly capture the performance of Venezuala's premier salsero Oscar D'Leon at the Palace on Wednesday night.

D'Leon's 14-piece orchestra walked onto the stage clad in the grayest and most business-like of suits and an air of restraint. But this was soon exploded by a dizzying sensation of its machine-precise, blazingly fast merengues, the typically Dominican dance music played in 2/4 time fused with the syncopated clave (fast-fast-slow) rhythm.

Then there was D'Leon himself, a large, bear-like man who sang with a reedy, richly textured voice while strutting, dipping and swirling with seeming gravity-defying agility. The 44-year-old bandleader's orgy of activity was heightened by the way he clung to the upright bass he plucked and twirled during the show's two one-hour sets.

Still, better adjustment of the Palace's sound system could have helped D'Leon's vocal performance, which was periodically overwhelmed by the band. But this mattered little to the roughly 700 fans who jammed the dance floor--an above average salsa turn out that persuaded the Palace management to extend D'Leon two-night concert series by a third day to Friday evening.

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