As I write this post a storm is slowly brewing off the Northern California coast. The next 10 days will be rain with a chance of snow under 3,000 ft. So I guess I couldn’t have found a more fitting song for these weather conditions than Mon Rivera’s Lluvia Con Nieve (rain with snow).
It’s funny but you hardly hear a Latin song about “snow”, you don’t find too much of that in tropical Caribbean countries. But for Puerto Rican born trombonist Efraín Rivera Castillo (“Mon”), who spent over 25+ years bouncing back from New York to Puerto Rico, you can start to draw a line as to why he would write something as such. Ever since Puerto Rico became a commonwealth in 1952 there has been a constant flow of immigration to the US, unlike other isolated Latin American countries. Puerto Rican musicians have always had the luxury of moving between music scenes in both countries, which in effect can be attributed to the birth of genres like the boogaloo and salsa. Mon himself was popular in both countries from the 50’s to 60’s with a form of plena mixed with pachanga and Latin Jazz. And in the 70’s became part of the all-trombone brass sections, which was part of the standard salsa vocabulary popularized by Willie Colon at that time. From popularity to obscurity, from a healthy career to alcoholism/drug abuse, you wonder what the transient Mon was getting at with this song. You’re not sure if the song laments, reveres, or complains about the cold weather. But I’m sure it is a little bit of everything.
Also, I tossed in a cool version from Peruvian Lucho Macedo. One of my favorite Peruvian band leaders of his time, someone I’m sure I’ll talk about some other day. Enjoy!