Willie Colon Sound Factory, Toronto ON November 3

Willie Colon is one of the towering figures of salsa, a key architect of the New York style of the music. Riding a renewed wave of interest in classic salsa due to the horrible movie El Cantante, which he denounced, he touched down in Toronto for his first visit in 17 years. The 2,000-capacity Sound Academy was packed as a testament to this man’s standing throughout Latin America. Colon’s ensemble featured classic New York salsa signifiers: no trap drums and three trombones, albeit one sax player fleshed out the horn section. Starting off with "Che Che Cole,” which Antibalas funked up a few years ago, the crowd was enthralled. The band were tight, especially where it counted with the conga player and the timbalero. Colon stuck to singing rather than playing trombone for much of the evening. When he did play, his solos were occasionally unfocussed, but he nevertheless would build back up to numerous climaxes. Big hits were never far away at any point, and always snapped the crowd back to attention. The tribute to his former vocalist Hector Lavoe went down well, especially his San Juan saga "Calle Luna Calle Sol.” Though he performed none of his definitive material with Ruben Blades as vocalist due to the duo’s ongoing feud, when Colon encored with one of the greatest ever Lavoe-era tunes "La Murga,” no one cared.