Tag Archives: salsa

Les Moncada Chats with the Comandante of the Timbal, Louie Romero

Louie Romero

There are timbaleros and then there are timbaleros like no other. Louie Romero has a remarkable timbales soloing style. When I post his solos on our Facebook site Timbales and Congas Bongo Bata and bells, the sound on my computer is like a slot machine!

Louie Romero has performed and recorded with the greats, as a youth living in New York City as timbales player for trombonist Willie Colon and with the late vocal legend Hector Lavoe.

Louie Romero’s brother percussionists in the Willie Colon Orchestra were José Mangual Jr. on bongo and the late Milton Cardona on congas, the most feared percussion section in New York City and the world, besides the earlier Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria and Willie Bobo.

Louie Romero, now living in San Francisco, California, is still making his timbales smoke. He is a true timbales music lesson for the young players and for those fortunate enough to meet him.

Let’s see what Louie Romero has to say about his legendary timbales career.

In the midst of the hottest salsa cycle of the 1970’s with Willie Colon Orchestra: Louie Romero, the late Milton Cardona & Jose Mangual Jr.

Louie, tell us a little about your background, where you were born and raised, your parents’ ancestry.

I was born in Brooklyn, New York of Puerto Rican descent.

Jose Mangual Jr., the late Milton Cordona & Louie Romero, the Comandantes of percussion in New York City.

When did you first hear Latin music?

In my mom’s womb.

How old were you when you started playing timbales? Could tell us what led up to you choosing timbales as your main instrument. Did you play any other instruments?

Watching my Pop playing drum set and timbales. No other instruments except percussion.

Which bands or orchestras did you perform with?

George Guzman, Willie Colon Orchestra, La Conspiracion, David Amram and Estampa Criolla.

Louie, how did you start to play with Willie Colon? Can you tell us a little about your association with Willie, Hector and Jose Mangual Jr and Milton Cardona?

I was at the Broadway Casino in Manhattan when Willie approached me and asked me to join. With Willie Colon and Héctor Lavoe, it was mostly business. With Jose Mangual Jr. and Milton Cardona, that was really good connect.

Louie, what are you presently doing music wise in San Francisco, California?

I have my Latin orchestra Mazacote.

Louie Romero backstage with legendary flutist, Art Webb

Louie, what is your recommendation to timbales or Latin percussion students of today?

For them to learn from the best instructors and to utilize a metronome.

What does the future hold for you, Louie Romero, timbalero of timbaleros?

To continue teaching, performing and recording.

Louie Romero with conguero Javier Navarrette

I would like to thank Louie Romero for his time he spent for this interview and thanks for his lifetime dedication as a timbalero.

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Angelique Kidjo’s Spirited Celebration of Afro-Latin Music

Angelique Kidjo – Celia (Verve/Universal Music France, 2019)

As a young girl, Angelique Kidjo was inspired by Cuban singer and salsa star Celia Cruz. Angelique’s new album, Celia , recreates some of Celia’s most popular songs. It is also a celebration of Afro-Latin music as it includes salsa, Afro-Cuban and Afro-Peruvian material.

Angelique Kidjo – Celia

For this recording, Angelique sings in Spanish and chose some of the most Yoruban-influenced songs by Celia Cruz. Angelique’s band features well known musicians from Benin, the United States, the UK and Nigeria, including Nigerian Afrobeat trailblazer Tony Allen on drums, American musician Meshell Ndegeocello on bass, British jazz outfit Sons of Kemet, and acclaimed Beninese act Gangbé Brass Band.

Celia is a colorful and beautifully-delivered tribute to one of the essential vocalists from the 20th century.

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Artist Profiles: Dany Noel

Dany Noel

Dany Noel was born in Havana, Cuba. He began his performing career at only 8 years old singing and playing guitar. After taking up acoustic and electric bass, he began to play with the top son, salsa and timba groups from Cuba. Ultimately, he left his native country to settle in Torino, Italy.

Dany is a renowned bassist, musical director, arranger, composer, producer, singer and graduate of classical guitar at the Conservatorio Ignacio Cervantes de la Habana. He has collaborated and recorded with prestigious musicians such as Celia Cruz, Omara Portuondo, Chucho Valdés, Pio Leyva, Xiomara Laugart, Iovanny Hidalgo, Richie Flores, Jose Alberto El Canario, Richie Rey, Rey Sepulveda, Mayito Rivera, Roberto Van Van, Changuito, Alexander Abreu and Jerry Gonzalez among others.

He moved to Europe in 1997, first to Italy. Along with Cuban drummer Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez, he formed Italuba as bassist, musical director, arranger and composer.

Dany is currently living in Madrid and has worked with Spanish, Argentine and Greek artists Luz Casal, Victoria Abril, Lolita Flores, Ainhoa ​​Arteta, Mariza, Arvanitaki Elefteria, Fito Páez, Ojos de Brujo, José Luis Perales and film director Fernando Trueba in his movie Chico y Rita.

He has also entered the pop and flamenco scene, which has led him to record with artists such as Niño Josele; Concha Buika on her album Niña de Fuego, winner of a Grammy Award, produced by Javier Limón; and Limón’s project Son de Limón, as bassist, voices and arranger.

In his 2017 album, Por La Habana , Danny focuses on the roots of Cuban music, his ancestors and his own words: “It’s an album so that my parents and my people won’t stop dancing”.

Discography:

Mi Sentir (2006)
Dime Si Tú Sabes (2006)
Proposicion (2011)
Confidence, with Dario Chiazzolino (2014)
Tinta Unida (2014)
Por La Habana ‎(Abanico Records, 2017)

With Italuba:

Italuba (Timba Records, 2002)
Italuba II (Cacao Musica, 2006)

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Dynamic Salsa and Merengue

Son Real Orchestra – Salsa

Son Real Orchestra – Salsa (ARC Music, 20008)

The London-based Colombian band Son Real presents an excellent CD of vibrant, dynamic and very danceable salsa and merengue. The band has a funky rhythm section (percussion, piano, bass), a tight and bright brass section, and three female crooners who fill out the sound on the 13 tracks.

This is a must-have album for you Latin fans out there; our picks include the dancefloor tracks Aurorita, Corazon gitano and Ay papa ay mama. A perfect choice for your Friday and Saturday parties!

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Angelique Kidjo to Release Celia Cruz Tribute Album

Angelique Kidjo – Celia

African music star Angelique Kidjo is set to release her new album Celia (Verve/Universal Music France) on April 19, 2019. The new recording reimagines and celebrates “The Queen of Salsa,” Cuban artist Celia Cruz. Guests on the album include Nigerian Afrobeat pioneer Tony Allen on drums, Meshell Ndegeocello on bass, Sons Of Kemet, and Gangbé Brass Band.

Angelique Kidjo is currently touring the United States, presenting songs from her 2018 album Remain In Light, which reconceptualized the music of influential rock band Talking Heads.

She will be at the Savannah Music Festival on April 6th, 2019 and at Carolina Theatre in Durham, North Carolina on April 8th. Other tour dates include:

April 11
Ulster Performing Arts Center
Kingston, NY

April 12
McCarter Theatre Center
Princeton, NJ

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Spanish Harlem Orchestra Wins Best Tropical Latin Album 2018 Grammy Award

Spanish Harlem Orchestra – Anniversary

The album Anniversary by legendary New York City salsa band Spanish Harlem Orchestra is the winner of the Best Tropical Latin Album 2018 Grammy Award.

Anniversary is the sixth album by the spectacular 13-piece all-star salsa big band led by pianist, composer and arranger Oscar Hernández.

Nominees

Pa’ Mi Gente – Charlie Aponte
Legado – Formell y Los Van Van
Orquesta Akokán – Orquesta Akokán
Ponle Actitud – Felipe Peláez

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Artist Profiles: Diego ‘El Cigala’

Diego ‘El Cigala’

‘El Cigala’ (the langostine or Norway lobster) is the nickname given by the Losada brothers to Diego Jimenez Salazar.

Cigala is a Gypsy singer-songwriter born in Madrid in 1968 and nephew of Rafael Farina. Since his childhood, he has been singing in his Madrid neighborhood of El Rastro (known for its large, popular flea market), later doing the same in the peñas (Flamenco fan clubs), and at the age of 12 he won a prize in the Gente Joven (Young People) competition and first prize in the Flamenco Joven (Young Flamenco) competition in Getafe (a city in Madrid’s southern metropolitan area).

He has accompanied such famous dancers as Cristóbal Reyes, Mario Maya, Manolete, Carmen Cortés, Guito, Farruco and Manuel Camacho. He has performed on records by Camarón, Paco Peña, Gerardo Núñez, Tomatito, and has worked with renowned musicians of the likes of Jorge Pardo, Carlos Benavent and Michel Camilo, to name but a few.

He has traveled the world over, visiting Iraq, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, United States and more.

In 1994, he embarked on his solo career accompanied by the guitarist Antón Jiménez and was chosen by the public of the Sala Revolver concert venue in Madrid as Best New Artist of the year.

In 1995, he shared the billing with Morente, Mercé and Parrita. In May of that year he released Undebel with the participation of David Amaya, Paquete, Parrita, J.M. Cortina, Bandolero, Chaboli and El Piraña.

El Cigala’s best known collaboration was the recording Lágrimas Negras with Cuban pianist Bebo Valdes. These two renowned performers, from two distinct disciplines, joined forces to create a third, powerful and distinctive musical language. Bebo Valdés was the pianist and composer arranger who helped shape Cuban music for the last 60 years. He was also the father of jazz phenomenon Chucho Valdés. Diego ‘El Cigala’ was the younger traditional soul-searching flamenco singer from Spain. They used boleros as their medium, Spanish as their language, and together they created Afro-Cuban influenced boleros with a distinct flamenco personality.

It was film director Fernando Trueba who had the idea of putting Bebo Valdés (85 at the time), and “El Cigala” (who was 35), together to record the all-time classic album and recreate songs such as “Lágrimas Negras”, “Corazon Loco”, “Se me olvidó que te olvidé” and “La bien pagá”.

Lágrimas Negras became an international best seller, with over 700.000 copies sold all over the world, 300.000 in Spain.

In 2006, El Cigala won the Latin Grammy Award for Best Flamenco Album with Picasso en Mis Ojos.

Diego ‘El Cigala’

He explored tango and flamenco in 2010’s Cigala & Tango and continued his interest in South American music with Romance de la luna Tucumana.

In 2014, Cigala recorded a live album as a tribute to Paco de Lucía with Diego del Morao on guitar.

In 2016 he released Sony Music Latin CD debut, Indestructible, an album where he explored the intersection of flamenco singing and classic 1970s salsa.

Discography:

Undebel (EMI, 1998)
Entre Vareta y Canasta (18 Chulos Records, 2000)
Corren Tiempos De Alegría Ariola (BMG Spain, 2001)
Teatro Real ‎(BMG Spain, 2002)
Blanco y Negro – En Vivo, live (Calle 54 Records, 2003)
Lágrimas Negras (Calle 54 Records, 2003)
Picasso En Mis Ojos (Sony BMG, 2005)
Dos Lágrimas (Edge Music, 2008)
Cigala & Tango (Cigala Music, 2010)
Romance De La Luna Tucumana (Cigala Music, 2013)
Vuelve El Flamenco – en vivo – Homenaje a Paco de Lucía (‎Cigala Music, 2014)
Indestructible (Sony Music Latin, 2016)

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Artist Profiles: Willie Rosario

Willie Rosario – Photo by Gerald López Cepero

Fernando Luis Rosario Marin was born in Coamo, Puerto Rico, on May 6th, 1930. He studied guitar bass, and saxophone encouraged by his mother. His family moved to New York when he was 16 years old. Willie Rosario studied journalism and public relations, but music soon became his profession.

Willie Rosario started his band in an era where there was fierce competition amongst the revered bands of the late 1950’s such as Pérez Prado, Tito Puente, Tito Rodríguez, Jose Curbelo, Orlando Marín, Joe Cuba, Alfredito, Cesar Concepción, Moncho Lena, Cortijo y su Combo, Vicentico Valdez, and last but not least, the venerable and worshipful, Machito and his Afrocubans.

The environment in which Willie Rosario developed as a bandleader instilled in him a sense of discipline and professionalism which he has maintained to this day, but the characteristic most associated with Willie Rosario is the Swing or solid rhythm section which is geared to the dancer, the rhythm section is complemented by a unique brass section comprised of four trumpets and a baritone sax, the only salsa band with this type of brass section.

The list of hits by the Willie Rosario is as impressive as the names of his well-known singers: De barrio obrero a la quince”, Chango Ta veni”, Lluvia”, Busca el Ritmo”, Amor Clasificado”, “Botaron la pelota”, “Atizame el fogon”, “El Apartamento” and many others. Puerto Rico Caribbean

Discography

El Bravo Soy Yo! (1963)
Fabuloso y Fantástico (1966)
Latin Jazz a Go-Go-Go (1967)
Two Too Much (1967)
Haida Huo (1968)
Boogaloo y Guaguancó (1968)
El Bravo de Siempre (1969)
De Donde Nace el Ritmo (Inca Records, 1971)
Más Ritmo (Inca Records, 1972)
Infinito (Inca Records, 1973)
Otra Vez (Inca Records, 1975)
Gracias Mundo (Inca Records, 1977)
From the Depth of My Brain (Top Hits, 1978)
El Rey del Ritmo! (Top Hits, 1979)
El de a 20 de Willie (Top Hits, 1980)
The Portrait of a Salsa Man (Top Hits, 1981)
Atízame el Fogón (Top Hits, 1982)
The Salsa Machine (Top Hits, 1983)
Nuevos Horizontes ( Bronco, 1984)
Afincando ( Bronco, 1985)
Nueva Cosecha ( Bronco, 1986)
A Man of Music ( Bronco, 1987)
The Salsa Legend ( Bronco, 1988)
Unique ( Bronco, 1989)
Viva Rosario! ( Bronco, 1990)
The Roaring Fifties ( Bronco, 1991)
Tradición Clásica (NRT, 1993)
¡Sorpresas! (Tiffany Records, 1995)
Back to the Future (HMS Records, 1999)
La Banda Que Deleita (Gennara Records, 2006)
Evidencia (Gennara Records, 2016)

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Artist Profiles: Tito Gómez

Tito Gómez

Salsa singer Tito Gómez was born April 9, 1948 in Juana Díaz, Puerto Rico although he became an adopted son of Colombia.

Tito Gómez was a veteran sonero, recognized internationally as a gifted singer with a spectacular voice. After making his name during a five-year stint with the great Puerto Rican institution Sonora Ponceña, Tito Gómez left in 1973 for a brief time with the breakaway La Terrifica. Thereafter, a couple of albums with Ray Barretto in 1975 and 1976 further raised his profile.

Tito returned to Ponceña in 1978 and went on to work with Tito Valentin, Venezuela’s La Amistad, Charlie Palmieri, La Terrifica, Rubby Haddock and Colombia’s legendary Grupo Niche before successfully resuming his solo career in 1991, creating several successful productions with Tito Rojas.

Tito Gomez delivered power non-stop old school salsa and mambo, pitched high, with the mix favoring the upper register.

He died June 11, 2007 in Cali, Colombia.

Discography:

Fuego En El 23! (Inca Records, 1969)
Para Gozar Borinquen (Inca Records, 1977)
Tierra Musica y Sentimiento (Nuestra Records, 1979
Brujerias (Nuestra Records, 1982)
Un Nuevo Horizonte (Musical Productions, 1991)
Agradecimiento (Zeida, 1993)
Recogiendo Frutos (Musical Productions, 1995)
Volver (Musical Productions, 1997)
Quien Nos Iba A Decir (Envidia, 2000)
Comenzando (En cero Musical Productions, 2004)
La Herencia (Fania, 2012)

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Artist Profiles: Edwin Bonilla

Edwin Bonilla

Edwin Bonilla was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico and transplanted to Elizabeth, New Jersey, at the age of four. Aside from the Puerto Rican “jibaro,” or countryside music, his parents often played at home, he listened to Motown, R&B, and rock during his preteen years. By the time he was 11 years of age, Edwin began to pay more attention to the music of New York figures such as Ray Barretto, Eddie Palmieri, Willie Colón and the rest of the emerging Salsa groups. The process of self-learning timbales started at 13 years of age. Within a year, he was already playing professionally with a trio that mostly played “jibaro” music in Elizabeth, which eventually led to work with Salsa bands.

At 15 years of age Edwin started playing with a local band called Orquesta Sonica that featured two youngsters who are well know today, Jimmy Bosch on trombone and Herman Oliveras on vocals. While playing with several groups, Edwin studied at the Drummers Collective in New York.

In 1981, he joined the Charanga Casino that was extremely popular throughout America’s Northeast and Miami during the early 1980’s. The experiences in the Charanga Casino led to further learning of Cuban music as he was exposed to Afro-Cuban rhythms early on during the frequent. By then, Edwin was into Cuban septets, traditional and “tipico” ensembles.

While performing with the Charanga Casino, he caught the eye of Hansel Martinez who invited him to join him and Raul, whereupon Edwin moved to Miami in 1987.

As a percussionist, Edwin is familiar with rhythmic patterns from all over the world. His professional experiences include performances and recordings in Jazz, Rock, Soca, Pop, Cuban, Puerto Rican, Indian and Brazilian music. He has participated in more than 1000 recordings during the last 12 years. He has done work for videos, movie scores and jingles. In 1999, “Edwin y su Son” was his first solo release. In March 2002 Edwin released “Soy la Candela.”

He has one of the most impressive resumes in the music industry. He has worked for such distinguished and popular figures as Lenny Kravitz, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Arturo Sandoval, N’Sync, Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, Madonna, Dave Grusin, Gloria Estefan, Patty Labelle, Quincy Jones, Nestor Torres, Giovanni Hidalgo, Gypsy Kings and Stevie Wonder among a host of others.

Discography:

Edwin y Su Son (SAR Productions, 1999)
Soy La Candela (SAR Records, 2002)
Pa’ La Calle (SAR Records, 2004)
Tirando Pa’ Charanga (SAR Records, 2006)
Homenaje A Los Rumberos (Sonic Projects Records, 2010)
Back To Basics (Sonic Projects Records, 2015)

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