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Album Review | Carlos Xavier Releases ‘Vive Todo Ahora’

San Francisco singer-songwriter Carlos Xavier recently released his debut album, Vive Todo Ahora (Live Everything Now), a collection of piquant salsa music influenced by artists such as DLG, Frankie Negron, Marc Anthony, Luis Enrique, and Michael Stuart.

Xavier describes his inspiration, “I was into that Urban New York salsa sound that fused gospel, R&B, and pop and formatted it into the structure of salsa. There is no higher feeling to me musically. As an American boy born in San Francisco but 100% Latin with parents born in Nicaragua, I felt blessed to have these roots and music running through my veins from two different parts of the world.”

Presently available via streaming, the CD is slated to release April 26.

Spanning six years of creative effort, Vive Todo Ahora was produced by Efrain Davila, and features the crème de la crème of salsa musicians: Ruben Rodriguez (bass), Luisito Quintero (percussion), Julia Diaz and Gerardo Rodriguez (trumpet), Jorge Dobal (trombone), Dave Shul (guitar), and Guianko Gomez.

The album’s title — Vive Todo Ahora — was engendered by a documentary on soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo. In the midst of watching the documentary, inspiration struck Xavier like a bolt of lightning.

Xavier says, “Instantly inspired, I literally started writing the song in my head and by the time the documentary was over I had a good road map. I immediately went to my music room and wrote the song. ‘Vive Todo Ahora.’ When I was done I told myself, I think I just wrote a hit song.”

He had written a hit song. As soon as it arrived on Spotify, it was placed on Spotify’s Salsa Nation Playlist.

Encompassing nine-tracks, the album begins with the title track, opening on a vibrant salsa melody full of delicious horns and a captivating, ebullient rhythm. A clear, affluent voice infuses the lyrics with tasty luminosity. I love the sparkling piano topped by the braying brass accents, as radiant background harmonies suffuse the tune with harmonic depth.

From a purely subjective perspective, the best tracks on the album include “Mientes,” riding a jazz-flavored salsa melody rife with marvelous horns adding blatting accents of colors, as the rollicking rhythm injects listeners with the desire to get up and dance.

“Tres Dias” opens on a gorgeously elegant piano and drawling guitar riff flowing into a low-slung syncopated beat, light but magnetic. Warm, mellow vocals give the tune velvety quixotic flavors, as the brass section imbues the harmonic stream with bubbly flavors.

Vive Todo Ahora is deliciously infectious, bedizened by undulating rhythms, dazzling salsa hues, and mesmerizing harmonic movement.

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Randy Radic is a former super model who succumbed to the ravages of time and age. Totally bereft of talent, he took up writing “because anyone can do it.”

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