Willie Colón & Héctor Lavoe – Asalto Navideño

Asalto Navideño album cover

This album is prescribed for those suffering from the Navideno blues. Willie Colon and Hector Lavoe take us on a Puerto Rican parranda excursion as they perform standard holiday favorites from “La Isla Del Encanto”. The album starts with a wonderful performance from the King of the Cuatro, Yomo Toro; only to be interrupted by a un-necessary diatribe by DJ Polito Vega. The album happens to contain the global hit “La Murga,” Asalto Navideño is vintage salsa. The two parts of this two-record set came out in 1971 and 1973, respectively, the peak years of the salsa boom. Any list of the top ten all-time salsa classics would have to include Asalto Navideño, and there are many who would place it on the top shelf. Today, more than 50 years after its initial release, most would still agree that this is the best Puerto Rican Christmas album ever. There’s not a Puerto Rican Christmas party in New York, San Juan, or elsewhere, that isn’t heated up to the strains of this irresistible medley of holiday tunes.Here the bad boy team of trombonist Willie Colón and vocalist Héctor Lavoe join forces with premier cuatro player Yomo Toro and legendary percussionists Milton Cardona and José Mangual to cook up salsa versions of typical Christmas songs familiar to Puerto Rican audiences of all ages. This típico sound of traditional country music, called música jíbara, is mixed and blended, salsa-style, with a wide range of other rhythms, starting, of course, with Cuban guaguancó and African-American jazz, but ranging to Brazilian samba, Panamanian murga, Dominican merengue, and others. The overall effect is that of a parranda, the traditional Puerto Rican and Latin American custom of going door-to-door at Christmas time singing and assaulting the houses of good friends and neighbors—hence the term asalto!—who then welcome the invading troupe with holiday treats and plenty of rum. And so the party begins! —Bobby Marin