Rubén Blades – Salsa Big Band (Rubén Blades Producciones, 2017)
Rubén Blades, one of the undisputed masters of salsa music, has released his second album recorded with the formidable Roberto Delgado & Orquesta. As the album title indicates, this recording is a tribute to the 1950s jazz and Latin jazz big bands, many of which were influenced by Cuban music big bands.
There is plenty of well-deserved Panamanian pride in this album. Rubén Blades hails from Panama and Roberto Delgado & Orquesta are Panamanian as well and the album was recorded in Panama. The partnership between Rubén Blades and superb arranger and big band leader Roberto Delgado delivers a set of outstanding songs where you’ll find the best of salsa and Latin jazz, highlighting Rubén’s unique vocals and masterful songwriting along with a large combo of talented instrumentalists.
The lineup on Salsa Big Band includes Rubén Blades on lead and backing vocals; Roberto Delgado on baby bass, electric bass, acoustic bass and backing vocals; Juan Berna on piano; Marcos Barraza on congas; Carlos Pérez-Bidó on timbales; Raúl “Toto” Rivera on bongo, bell, güiros and maracas; Ademir Berrocal on congas, timbales, bongo and bell; Juan Carlos “Wichy” López on trumpets; Alejandro “Chichisín” Castillo on trumpets and trombones; Francisco Delvecchio on trombone; Avenicio “Pin” Núñez on trombone; Carlos Ubarte on soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophone; Luis Enrique Becerra on keyboards.
Guests: Ricky Rodriguez on piano; Juan Carlos De León on piano; Robinson Fereira on piano; and Pablo Governatori on drums.
Salsa Big Band demonstrates that Rubén Blades is still at the top of the salsa world; a candidate for one of the best albums of the year.
Eddie Palmieri’s musical career spans several decades as a bandleader of salsa and Latin jazz orchestras. His discography includes over 30 albums and various Grammy Awards.
Born in Spanish Harlem (New York city) in 1936, Palmieri began piano studies at an early age, as did his celebrated older brother, the late salsa legend and pianist Charlie Palmieri. For Hispanic New Yorkers of Eddie’s generation, music was a vehicle out of the barrio. At age 11, he made his classical debut at Carnegie Hall, a venue as far from the Bronx as he could imagine. Possessed by a desire to play the drums, Palmieri joined his uncle’s orchestra at age 13, where he played the timbales. Says Palmieri, “By 15, it was good-bye timbales’ and back to the piano until this day. I’m a frustrated percussionist, so I take it out on the piano.”
He began his professional career as a pianist in the early 1950s with Eddie Forrester’s Orchestra. In 1955 he joined Johnny Segui’s band. He spent a year with the Tito Rodriguez Orchestra before forming his own band, the legendary Conjunto La Perfecta in 1961. La Perfecta featured a trombone section (led by the late Barry Rogers) in place of trumpets, something that had been rarely done in Latin music, and which demonstrated the early stages of Palmieri’s unconventional means of orchestration. They were known as “the band with the crazy roaring elephants” for the configuration of two trombones, flute, percussion, bass and vocalist. With an infectious and soaring sound, Palmieri’s band soon joined the ranks of Machito, Tito Rodriguez, and the other major Latin orchestras of the day.
Palmieri’s influences include not only his older brother Charlie but Jesus Lopez, Chapotin, Lili Martinez and other Cuban players of the 1940s and jazz legends Art Tatum, Bobby Timmons, Bill Evans, Horace Silver, Bud Powell, McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock and Miles Davis. Equally important were influences derived from Palmieri’s curiosity and incessant search to unearth his family’s roots and seek out the origins of the music that profoundly inspired him.
“In Cuba, there was a development and crystallization of rhythmical patterns that have excited people for years,” said Palmieri. “Cuban music provides the fundamental from which I never move. Whatever has to be built must be built from there. It’s that cross-cultural effect that makes magnificent music.” His solid interpretation of Afro-Caribbean music and its confluence with jazz is evident in Eddie Palmieri’s astute arranging skills, which assemble those components in dramatic and compelling compositions.
His accomplishments have taken him through Europe, Japan and Latin America, showcasing his assemblage of seasoned musicians and kaleidoscope of musical styles. He served as a consultant to Paul Simon on his 1990 release Rhythm of the Saints and in 1993 was appointed to the board of governors of the New York chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Science. As a member of the New York chapter, Palmieri was instrumental in creating a new category for Latin Jazz in 1995.
On his first salsa album in eleven years, El Rumbero del Piano, Palmieri returned to his roots as leader of one of Latin music’s most phenomenal dance bands. Accompanied by the finest musicians of New York and Puerto Rico, Palmieri presented a sensational combination of salsa, bomba, plena, son montuno and jazz. El Rumbero del Piano is a spectrum of memorable and danceable music in nine outstanding tracks, featuring vocals by Wichy Camacho and Herman Olivera, two of Latin music’s most inspiring singers.
In his modern version of Arsenio Rodriguez’s classic “Oigan mi Guaguanco ” Palmieri pays tribute to Rodriguez, the great Cuban tres player, one of the founding fathers of today’s tropical music. Puerto Rican customs and culture are the centerpiece of the bomba tune “El Dueño Monte” in which the vocalists pay tribute to other legendary figures of Puerto Rico’s folk music, including singer Ismael Rivera and the musicians of the Cepeda family.
In “Donde Esta mi Negra” Palmieri gives new life to a genre known as “the people’s newspaper”—the plena. This is the first plena Palmieri has composed and arranged. Another treat is a salsa version of “La Malagueña Salerosa” composed by Pedro Galindo and Elpidio Ramírez. The final track, “Para que Escuchen” is pure Palmieri, urging listeners to hear the talking drum.
On his exuberant Concord Picante debut, La Perfecta II, Eddie Palmieri took a salsified, mambo-rific trip down memory lane and bought an updated twist of his famed 1960s ensemble to a whole new generation of Latin music lovers.
Now that Tito Puente is gone, Palmieri accepts the passing of the Latin music leader baton and is happy to consider himself a Latin jazz ambassador to the world.
“Tito helped extend this music to all parts of the world, and as long as I am still healthy and energetic, I will continue to record and tour to keep this wonderful legacy alive,” says Palmieri. “The rhythms continue to excite because they keep evolving, just as they did when the African captives who started them were taken to the Caribbean. It’s a matter of finding new ways to utilize these complicated patterns and then create exciting new arrangements for my ensemble.”
“We’ve been together for many years and work like a good baseball team,” adds Palmieri of his band. “What matters is how we take care of specific synchronizations, and a lot of that takes place first in my head. The structure is there, and I look at it sometimes as a mathematical equation. But then, it must translate to emotion, and that’s where the reaction of the audience comes in.” He jokes about choosing the title of his 2003 album, “I like the sound of Ritmo Caliente on Concord Picante. It is hot and spicy, like the music.” On the CD, Palmieri combines hard core salsa and hard Latin jazz with his classical and chamber string influences. “Concord has been wonderful in offering me this ability to keep taking musical risks,” he said.
In 2005, Palmieri received a series of prestigious awards: he received the Alice Tully African Heritage Award from City College, received the Harlem Renaissance Award and was inducted into both the Bronx Walk of Fame and the Chicago Walk of Fame. He also received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Urban Latino Magazine. He acted as Godfather of the Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City and received the EL Award from El Diario Newspaper. Yet another outstanding achievement that year was the debut of “Caliente ” a radio show hosted by Mr. Palmieri on National Public Radio, making him the first Latino ever to do so. The show has been a tremendous success, being picked up by more than 16 radio stations nationwide.
In 2006, Palmieri’s Listen Here! won the Grammy Award for Best Latin Jazz Album. Simpático, released in 2007, a collaborative effort with trumpet master Brian Lynch, won the 2007 Grammy for Best Latin Jazz Album. Simpático was also recognized by the Jazz Journalist Association as Best Latin Jazz Album that same year.
Awards and accolades
Eddie Palmieri received his first Grammy Award in 1975 for his release The Sun of Latin Music, which is often considered the most historic, as it was the first time Latin Music was recognized by the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (NARAS).
Palmieri was awarded the Eubie Blake Award by Dr. Billy Taylor in 1991 and is among the few Hispanic musicians recognized by the Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico and the New York State Assembly. In 1988, the Smithsonian Institution recorded two of Palmieri’s performances for their catalog of the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., a rare public honor.
The 1998 Heineken Jazz Festival in San Juan, Puerto Rico, paid tribute to his contributions as a bandleader, bestowing him an honorary doctorate degree from the Berklee College of Music.
Palmieri remains a powerhouse of brilliance and sound that has stirred audiences for more than 3 decades years, continually and successfully seeking to captivate and elevate the senses, and taking them down paths of intensity to a place where there are no musical boundaries.
Orchestra Fuego is a great classic salsa band from the Tampa Bay area in Florida. The high energy twelve-piece band composes its own material and their old school style incorporates Cuban and Nuyorican elements. In addition to salsa, the band also performs other Latin American music genres such as merengue, bolero, bachata and cha cha chá.
The band is led by two musicians from New York City’s salsa scene, pianist and musical director Marcus Hernandez and lead vocalist Luis “Torpedo” Aponte, who reunited in Florida several years after moving from New York.
Orchestra Fuego plays irresistible hip-shaking salsa and deserves more attention outside of its region.
Bandleader Oquendo was a veteran of the days when Latin bands crowded into a studio to polish off a recording in an all-night session. “The first recording (singer) Tito Rodriguez did we took the 7th Avenue train to record for SMC label,” Oquendo recalled. “Tito Puente did the arrangements. You recorded on monaural with just a few mikes. You couldn’t stop and overdub. You just played.”
Oquendo’s musical education consisted of the old-school,just play” approach and he was in the right place to learn. He grew up on Kelly Street in the Bronx New York not far from the great Cuban tres player Arsenio Rodriguez. Colin Powell who’d later become a general lived on the block too so did pianist Noro Morales. And a lot of kids who’d later make their names in Latin music such as Joe Cuba the Palmieri brothers Little Ray Romero grew up playing stickball on Kelly Street.
One floor down from the Oquendo apartment was the Almacenes Hernandez record shop. “There was music constantly coming out of that store and that was my education,” Oquendo recalled. He became an expert on Cuban rhythms and began playing bongo and timbales with a succession of New York’s top bands.
Manny Oquendo died on March 25, 2009
Increible (1981. Reissued by Sony Discos Inc. 8397 2000)
Larry Harlow is a legend in salsa music. As a classically trained musician he began to study music at the age of 5 following in his father’s footsteps. He has a multi-faceted musical education having studied at the most prestigious music schools including; The High School of Music and Art in N.Y. City; Brooklyn College B.A. in Music; The Institute of Audio Research; The New School For Social Research M.A.in Philosophy. His specialties include Jazz and Classical piano conducting composition orchestration and audio engineering. Besides the keyboards he also plays oboe English horn flute bass vibraphone and assorted percussion instruments.
During the late 1950s he was so fascinated by the Latin rhythms that he traveled to Cuba to live and study the real Afro-Cuban sounds that became known as Salsa. As an expert Salsa artist he returned to New York to develop his own style and orchestra and later to help create the internationally famous Fania All-Stars group. While a member and producer of the Fania All-Stars for fifteen years Larry Harlow was not only a recording star with various solo albums and 15 with the All-Stars but also produced over 16 recordings for other artists. Harlow became a Santeria Priest (Ochun-Oni) and speaks English Spanish German and Lucumi.
He has received six gold records and has been recipient of Record World and Billboards’ Awards in the following categories: Latin Producer of the Year; Pianist of the Year; Arranger of the Year; Concert of the Year; and Salsa Orchestra of the Year. Harlow is a former Governor of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. He was the primary force in attaining recognition for Latin Artists thoughout the world by instituting the first Grammy for Latin music. He himself has been nominated for a Grammy for his album “La Raza Latina” a Salsa Suite. He created and composed the first Salsa opera “Hommy” which he orchestrated and conducted at Carnegie Hall and repeated in San Juan Puerto Rico to rave reviews. Harlow produced and recorded the first Latin Quadraphonic album and the first Latin Digital album.
He was the associate producer and co-starred in two feature films “Our Latin Thing” and “Salsa”.
Larry Harlow tours internationally with his unique Latin sounds taking it to Europe Central and South America Finland Africa and Japan as well as all the major markets in the U.S. Harlow is a former owner of two state-of-the-art recording studios in New York. He is currently playing producing recordings and directing videos for major artists in the U.S. and Europe. This past year Harlow formed the Latin Legends Band who are recording and touring the globe. Harlow is listed in the first edition of “Who’s Who in Entertainment”.
Heavy Smokin’ (Fania, 1965)
Bajándote: Gettin’ Off (Fania, 1966)
El Exigente (Fania, 1967)
Me and My Monkey (Fania, 1969)
Ambergris! (Gatefold, 1970)
Electric Harlow (Fania, 1970)
Abran Paso! (Fania, 1971)
Orchestra Harlow Presenta an Ismael Miranda (Fania, 1971)
Tribute To Arsenio Rodríguez (Fania, 1971)
Opportunidad (Fania, 1972)
Harlow’s Harem (Fania, 1972)
Hommy: A Latin Opera (Fania, 1973)
Salsa (Fania, 1974)
Live in Quad (Fania, 1974)
El Judío Maravilloso (Fania, 1975)
Con Mi Viejo Amigo (Fania, 1976)
El Jardinero del Amor (Fania, 1976)
La Raza Latina: A Salsa Suite (Fania, 1977)
El Albino Divino (Fania, 1978)
Latin Fever (Fania, 1978)
Rumbambola (Fania, 1978)
La Responsabilidad (Fania, 1979)
El Dulce Aroma del Éxito (Fania, 1980)
Our Latin Feeling – Nuestro Sentimiento (Fania, 1980)
Así Soy Yo (Coco, 1981) Yo Soy Latino (Fania, 1983)
Señor Salsa (Tropical Budda, 1984)
The Latin Legends Band (Sony, 1998)
Romance En Salsa (Caimán, 1999)
¡Sofrito! (Rainart, 2000)
Live at Birdland (Latin Cool, 2003)
Jimmy Bosch is one of New York’s most reputable trombonists. He plays a music style that he calls Salsa Dura (Hard Salsa) a fiery and innovative style that goes beyond traditional salsa.
Jimmy Bosch was born in Jersey City and grew up in Hoboken, New Jersey. He is the son of a Puerto Rican family with deep musical roots. His father was a notorious dancer his mother used to sing at parties back in Puerto Rico and his uncle Israel was really into flamenco cante (singing).
Bosch’s Salsa Dura is both a testament to and an evolution of Puerto Rican musical traditions. Bosch continuously re-invents the music of a culture with roots in Africa and Spain by drawing upon an eclectic repertoire: the plenas of an agrarian Puerto Rico; Cuban styles such as mambo, son, yambú, guaguanco, guajira and Mozambique; music by the Beatles, American folk tunes, and the New York Salsa of the 1970s informed by straight-ahead jazz and contemporary rock.
Bosch began playing trombone in 1970 at the age of 8 and at age 13 this prodigious talent taught him-self to play “monas” (musical riffs). Bosch frequented clubs in New York City with his trombone at hand confident that he would one day land a gig with a major New York salsa band. In 1978 while a student at Rutgers University his moment came to a realization when he was hired by Andy González to work with Conjunto Libre heralding the birth of a prolific career and extensive
Soneando Trombón (Ryko Latino, 1998)
Salsa Dura (RykoLatino, 1999)
El Avión de la Salsa (JRGR Records, 2004)
¡A Millon! (JRGR Records, 2009)
Bronx-born Bobby Matos has been playing Afro-Cuban rhythms for many years. He was there, in New York, when the Salsa boom was about to start and take over the minds and souls of a generation that was craving for a musical revolution that would bring them pride and happiness.
Born in a Puerto Rican family, Bobby Matos began playing music playing pots and pans in his grandmother’s apartment and went on to backstage informal lessons with conga drum masters Patato Valdés and Mongo Santamaria.
His first gigs were in the early 6s beat bohemian Greenwich Village Cafes, but he soon found himself playing in every type of venue; from Bronx dance halls to Carnegie Hall, to elegant supper clubs, Central Park Concerts, Off Broadway theaters, and After Hours clubs in El Barrio.
He was inspired and encouraged to play timbales by Willie Bobo and Tito Puente, and in the late 1960s attended the New School and Manhattan School of Music studying composition and arranging. Around this exciting time for Latin Music in New York, he recorded My Latin Soul, in 1968. This recording eventually became a much prized cult classic influencing many 197s and 8s Acid Jazz groups on both sides of the Atlantic.
After touring and recording with artists like Ben Vereen, Bette Midler, Fred Neil, Jim Croce, Ray Rivera, Joe Loco, Miriam Makeeba, and many others, Bobby moved to Los Angeles where he began experimenting with an Afro-Cuban Jazz band where he could blend (and twist) musical elements from Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria, Wayne Shorter, Eddie Palmieri, and the rich legacy of Afro-Cuban music.
In the 1980s and 90s, he recorded several albums, most notably 5 critically acclaimed CDs for Ubiquity Records’ Cubop label. He also produced CDs for Ray Armando, Pucho and the Latin Soul Brothers, Dave Pike, John Santos, and Jack Costanzo.
Bio Ritmo (Biorhythm) is a remarkable Richmond, Virginia-based salsa band led by keyboardist Marlysse Simmons. Bio Ritmo’s sound is rooted in the great Afro-Cuban and Puerto Rican salsa traditions.
It is their vision for bringing salsa “into the now” through skillful layering of jazz, urban, electronic and global sonic influences while maintaining the integrity of their foundation; and unusually profound and introspective lyrics.
Yomo Toro, a cultural icon for 50 years, was one of Latin music’s most beloved musicians. Victor Guillermo Toro was born on July 26, 1933 in the Guarnica province of Puerto Rico in Ensenada, where a statue of him now stands in the town square.
He began learning cuatro with his father and during his teens performed with many popular and folkloric groups. He moved to New York in 1956, and throughout the ’60s played with such groups as Ramito and Los Panchos.
From the late ’60s through the mid-’70s he hosted a TV show on Channel 41. In 1970, he joined Willie Colon and Hector Lavoe in recording the classic Asalto Navideño, a groundbreaking album that combined New York salsa with traditional Puerto Rican Christmas music and became one of the best-selling salsa albums of all time.
He was a member of the famed Fania All-Stars, which included such artists as Willie Colon, Hector Lavoe, Johnny Pacheco, Bobby Valentin, Roberto Roena, Ray Barretto, Larry Harlow, Cheo Feliciano, and Ismael Miranda, and toured with the band throughout the world.
He appeared on more than 150 albums, including over 20 solo albums for Fania, Island, Rounder and Green Linnet Records. He has recorded with such stars as Harry Belafonte, Paul Simon, Linda Ronstadt, David Byrne, and Marc Anthony, made several cross-cultural albums, and worked on the soundtracks of Woody Allen’s Bananas and Crossover Dreams.
In his last years he performed with Larry Harlow and the Latin Legends Band and appeared in the off-Broadway show Sofrito! In addition to performing, he was an accomplished songwriter, particularly of romantic ballads.
In 2012, several press releases came out in June, confirming that Yomo Toro was severely ill, suffering from kidney failure due to many years of high blood pressure.
Yomo Toro died on Saturday, June 30, 2012 at 11:40 pm after more than a month in a New York hospital due to kidney failure.
Trombone player, composer and bandleader Willie Colón is one of the pioneers of modern salsa and Latin jazz.
Colón holds fifteen gold and five platinum records, and has collaborated with celebrated artists such as Fania All-Stars, Hector LaVoe, Rubén Blades, David Byrne, Celia Cruz, and Yomo Toro amongst others. His music, which powerfully influenced modern Latin jazz, reflects both rhythmic and traditional lyrics.
His achievements in all his activities are widely recognized. He has created 40 productions, and as musician, composer, arranger, singer, and trombonist, as well as producer and director, Colón still holds the all time record for worldwide sales.
Born William Anthony Colón on April 28, 1950 in the Bronx, New York, and raised by his grandmother, her strong beliefs and personality, powerfully influenced his devotion to his cultural roots. Colón started playing trumpet at the age of 12, and switched to trombone two years later.
Colón’s album “El Malo” has become known as one of the first albums to feature the “New York Sound”, blending in jazz harmonies and jazz style soloing, Colón along with pianist and bandleader Eddie Palmieri, largely defined the sound of salsa”.
As a community leader, he has won both local affection and national recognition. In 1991 he was awarded the Yale University’s CHUBB fellowship, a political recognition he shares with the late John F. Kennedy, Jesse Jackson, Moshe Dyane, Ronald Reagan, and George Bush to mention a few.
In November of 1999 he became Dr. William A. Colón through a doctorate he received from Hartford, Connecticut’s Trinity College for The Art of Courage, a recognition given to artists who have used their art to make political change.
Through his work and positive message he has developed into a national and internationally respected sociopolitical voice and artist.
* Guisando (Fania, 1969)
* Asalto Navideño (Fania SLPF399, 1972)
* The Big Break (Fania SLP394, 1976)
* Siembra (Fania, 1978)
* Solo (Fania, 1980)
* Canciones del Solar de los Aburridos (Fania, 1983)
* Top Secrets (Fania, 1989)
* Illegal Aliens (Fania, 1990)
* Color Americano (CBS, 1990)
* Honra y Cultura (CBS, 1991)
* El Malo (Fania, 1991)
* 49 Minutes (Fania JM00525, 1992)
* Altos Secretos (Fania, 1992)
* Corazón Guerrero (Fania, 1992)
* Deja Vu (Fania, 1992)
* El Baquine de Angelitos Negros (Fania JMCD00506, 1992)
* Last Fight (Fania, 1992)
* The Best (Sony, 1992)
* Grandes Éxitos (Fania, 1992)
* Super Éxitos (Fania, 1992)
* Hecho en Puerto Rico (Fania, 1993)
* Willie & Tito (Vaya, 1993)
* Best, Vol. 2 (Sony, 1994)
* Lo Mato (Fania, 1994)
* El Juicio (Fania LPCD00424, 1994)
* Trans la Tornenta (Sony, 1995)
* Brillantes (Sony, 1996)
* Fania All-Stars (Sony, 1997)
* Mi Gran Amor (Madacy, 1999)
* Idilio (Sony Tropical 83999, 2000)
* Best (Fania 689, 2000)
* Demasiado Corazón (Líderes Entertainment Group 950 036, 2000)
* Criollo (BMG Latin 93611, 2002)
* La Experiencia (2004)
* Colección de Oro (2005)
* OG: Original Gangster (2006)
* The Player (2007)
* La Historia: The Hit List (2007)
* El Malo Vol II: Prisioneros del Mambo (2008)
* Asalto Navideño Live/En Vivo (2008)
* La Esencia de la Fania (2008)
* Historia de la Salsa (2010)
* Selecciones Fania (2011)
* Serie Premium: Sólo Éxitos (2013)
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