Published Feb 01, 2000His razor-thin sideburns connect him to the rougher edges of Latino youth culture, but Jimmy Bosch is the best kind of throwback. While the Latino pop hybrids of Ricky Martin and Lou Bega rule with kids far too young to know who Ricky Ricardo was, Bosch labours ardently in the tradition of show-stopping New York mambo and Latin jazz bands of the '50s and '60s. Bosch, who has played the trombone since the age of 11, learned his chops playing alongside Latin jazz all-stars like Celia Cruz, Eddie Palmieri and Ruben Blades.
Now an athletically built, shaven-headed 40-year-old who could pass for 25, Bosch is a marquee bandleader in his own right, but not a celebrity presence that eclipses the talents and fervour of his bandmates. "For a long time I felt like I was part of the wallpaper, but that doesn't happen in my band," Bosch explains from his New York home. "Everyone showcases what they've got - I've got some great musicians playing with me, and those cats all get featured and acknowledged."
The upshot live is a peerlessly explosive spontaneity that sees even the most reticent dancers become animated by the energy radiating from the stage. That powerful spontaneity is also owing to Bosch's style of music: "salsa dura," meaning hard salsa. Less formulaic and more aggressive than most club salsa, the raw energy of salsa dura draws from a New York Puerto Rican community. Salsa Dura is also the name of Bosch's fine new album, but it's big band live music pure and simple.
Rather than wallowing in the injustices of the mainstream media, Bosch enjoys the trickle-down effect of the so-called Latin explosion, relishing the opportunity to share the power of live Latin music. "Ricky Martin is not doing what I'm committed to representing worldwide, but his success has been great for me, because it's making the world more receptive to Latino artists and the fire and the passions of authentic salsa. The world is ready to have some fun on the dance floor, and they're having a blast. It's a very social thing - people get dressed up to go out and they want to meet people and learn how to dance. It's a wonderful thing."