Artist Profiles: Alfredo De La Fe

Alfredo De La Fe

Alfredo De La Fe is a Cuban-born and New York-based violinist who lived in Colombia for more than 16 years, responsible for transforming the violin into an important sound within salsa and Latin music.

The first solo violinist to perform with a Salsa orchestra, De La Fe has toured the world more than thirty times, appearing in concert and participating in more than one hundred albums by such top-ranked Latin artists as Eddie Palmieri, Tito Puente, Celia Cruz, Jose Alberto “El Canario”, Cheo Feliciano, The Fania All Stars and Santana.

His second solo album, Alfredo, released in 1979, received a Grammy nomination as “Best Latin album”.

A child prodigy, Alfredo’s father who was a singer (a tenor of opera) in Havana, Cuba and sang on Cuban radio with Bienvenido Leon and Celia Cruz in the 1940s recognized his son’s skills and encouraged his musical talent. De La Fe began studying violin at the Amadeo Roldan Conservatory in Havana in 1962. Two years later, he received a scholarship to attend the Warsaw Conservatory in Poland.

In 1965, he performed compositions by Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in Carnegie Hall. A scholarship to Juilliard Arts enabled him to further his studies. De La Fe launched his professional career, at the age of twelve, when he switched from classical music to Salsa and accepted an invitation to join charanga legend Jose Fajardo’s Orchestra.

In 1972, he joined Eddie Palmieri’s Orchestra. He remained with the group for a very short period, moving temporarily to San Francisco where he joined Santana. Returning to New York, De La Fe joined Tipica ’73 in 1977. Two years later, he released his debut solo album, Alfredo.

In 1980, De La Fe signed with Sars All Stars, and produced thirty two albums for the Latin record label. His second solo album, Charanga ’80, was released the same year.

In 1981, De La Fe became musical director of Tito Puente’s Latin Percussion Jazz Ensemble. The following year, he resumed his solo career, signing with Taboga, for whom he recorded the album Triunfo.

Relocating to Colombia in 1983, De La Fe signed with Philips and released three albums – Made in Colombia, Dancing in the Tropics and Alfredo De La Fe Vallenato – by the end of the 1980s.

In 1989, De La Fe switched to the Fuentes label. Although he joined the Fania All Stars in 1995, De La Fe continued to pursue a solo career. He signed with Sony Music in 1997. Two years later, he toured with his own band, appearing at festivals in Denmark, Holland, France, Turkey and Belgium, and reunited with Eddie Palmieri’s Orchestra for a European tour.

In 2002, after spending several years in Europe, Alfredo moved back to New York and toured the United States with his New York-based band.

Discography:

* Para Africa con amor (Sacodis Records, 1978)
* Alfredo (1979)
* Charanga (Sacodis Records, 1980)
* Triunfo (Toboga Records, 1982)
* Made in Colombia (Phillips Records 1984)
* Alfredo De La Fé Vallenato (Phillips Records, 1985)
* Dancing in the Tropics (Phillips Records, 1988)
* Salsa (Fuentes Records, 1990)
* Los Violines de Alfredo De La Fé (Fuentes Records, 1990)
* Salsa y Charanga (Fuentes, 1993)
* The Violins of Alfredo De La Fé – Sentir de Cuba (Fuentes, 1992)
* Con Toda la Salsa (Fuentes, 1993)
* Bailando en el Trópico
* Salsa Passion
* La Salsa de los Dioses (Fuentes, 1995)
* De La Fé y aché (Sony Music, 1997)
* Latitudes (Ryko Latino, 2000)
* La Llave de Oro, with Fruko (2006)

Official Web Site: www.alfredodelafe.com

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.

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