Music: Enter Salsa: Some Like It Hot

A drum choir of congas, bongos and timbales sets up a spiky beat punctuated by rattling maracas and a shower of cowbells. A pair of trumpets blasts off in the brass brigade. At the center of the excitement a small, bearded figure huddles over the piano, sweat pouring off his face. Eddie Palmieri attacks the keyboard with fingers, forearms and chin before a sellout crowd at Manhattan's Avery Fisher Hall.

The name of the sound is salsa, as in salsa picante—Spanish for hot sauce. As anyone who can tell tamales from timbales knows, salsa is guaranteed to open up nerve...

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