Electric bass guitarist and upright bassist Salvador "Sal" Cuevas was for many years, a member of the salsa music group Fania All-Stars, circa (1978–1985), as well as several other top name salsa groups of the time (Johnny Pacheco, Héctor Lavoe, Willie Colon/Ruben Blades, etc.). During this time, he was also one of five bass players in New York City who recorded many of the "Jingles" for T.V. and Radio (The others were Marcus Miller, Will Lee, Francisco Centeno, Neil Jason).
Sal also enjoyed the title of Musical Director to Willie Colon's orquestra both during Willie's collaborations with famed Panamanian singer/songwriter/actor Rubén Blades, and Willie's solo singing ventures. Sal was born in Manhattan on June 16, 1955 and raised in The Bronx, New York City by Puerto Rican parents. He grew up in the tough streets of the South Bronx yet from the age of five, where his dad helped him develop his deep love of music, Sal was able to stay away from the negative influences that those streets can bring. Musically speaking, the demographics of the 'City' during that time, provided Sal with a tremendous array of musical influences, which he wisely obsorbed and later incorporated into his bass playing technique and style.
Always in demand, he has recorded and performed with a long list of the giants of salsa, jazz, pop, rock and beyond, including; Willie Colón, Rubén Blades, Héctor Lavoe, Ray Barretto, Tito Puente, Machito, Fania All-Stars, Celia Cruz, Larry Harlow, Ismael Miranda, Eddie Palmieri, Cheo Feliciano, Johnny Pacheco, Tito Nieves, Soledad Bravo, Sophy, Fernandito Villalona, Arturo Sandoval, Billy Idol, Lenny Kravitz, Kirsty MacColl, Jon Lucien, Angela Bofill, Dave Valentin, Noel Pointer, Airto & Flora Purim, Harry Belafonte, Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, Gilberto Santarosa, Olga Tañón, Jaci Velaquez, Mandy Moore, José Feliciano, Oscar D'León, Gloria Estefan, Jon Secada, Franco De Vita, Ricardo Montaner, Amaury Gutiérrez, Cristian Castro, David Bisbal, Thalía, La India, Obie Bermúdez, Los Ilegales, Gaitanes, Gian Marco, Hector 'El Father', Don Omar, and the list, (much too long to list here), goes on and on with hundreds of other world famous artist, both Latin and/or American. He was also heavily involved (thanks to friend and fellow bassist Francisco Centeno) in the "Jingle" business of New York City.
The early to mid-1970s was a time when the electric bass guitar came of age with the likes of world famous jazz bassist Jaco Pastorius and Stanley Clarke, and in the Latin music world, Sal kept pace with those guys by taking the instrument to the "next level" within Latin music. Just listen to him seduce you with tradition while also giving the horn players a run for their money on the Ray Barreto album "Ricanstruction".
On a couple of tracks, he also uses sound modifying effects and foot pedals to add a different "color" to the sound of the bass. Sal is credited as being the innovator of Latin music bass playing when he first incorporated never before heard, nor utilized, Funk/Jazz/R&B/Rock styles and techniques on the instrument.
While maintaining the traditional flavor and concepts of authencity within Latin music, he managed to fuse all those other "worlds" into his bass playing technique, resulting in the creation of a completely unique style. On some recordings for instance, he would play very intricate horn section lines or phrases on the bass in unison with the horns, which until then was virtually unheard of within the genre, as was his funky bass slapping and string snapping technique which has today become a norm for bassist within Latin salsa music thanks to Sal.
On the electric upright bass, Sal managed to incorporate techniques which also until then were completely unheard of in Latin music, such as slides, (Glisandos), and utilizing the very upper ranges of the instrument, (Check out Sal with Papo Lucca/Celia Cruz on Sonora Poncena's "La Ceiba Y La Siguaraya"). Internet searches on Sal are sometimes incomplete, but he is currently living in South Florida, yet he stays very active doing recordings, songwriting, and productions. Sal plays a couple of other instruments as well.
An outstanding example of his playing is on Arturo Sandoval's Danzon recording, a brilliant rethinking of Dizzy Gillespie's "Groovin' High".
Famous quotes containing the word sal:
“Perhaps you have been busy
Horse-whipping Sal or Lizzie,
Stealing some poor mans baby,
Selling its mother, maybe.”
—Jane Grey Swisshelm (18151884)