Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Freddie Hubbard, Trumpet Player dies at 70

Freddie was a straight ahead Jazz player but several of his tunes lent themselves perfectly to the Latin Jazz genre. In fact most LJ groups in NY count Little Sunflower in their repetoire. We pay homage to this most innovative, powerful musician. May he rest in peace

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

I just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Its been a nice ride so far, and I know Willie would agree in saying that its definitely better to give than recieve, so I hope everyone has enjoyed our humble offerings so far. Much more to come.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Miguel Zenon with Paoli Mejias

Paoli Mejia's latest release, Jazzambia, features Miguel Zenon. It is some of the best Latin Jazz to be played here in the USA in years IMHO. So in keeping with Ralph's insightful article about Miguel check him out on this CD. You will not be disappointed.

Here is the lineup:

Hans Glawischnig Bass
Antonio Sanchez Drums
Jaleel Shaw Saxes
Luis Perdomo Piano
Miguel Zenón Alto sax
Tony Escapa Drums
Chris Cheek Saxes
Christian Nieves Cuatro
Rafael Tito De Gracia Timbal
Ricardo Pons Alto sax
Yan Carlos Artime Coro

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wayne Gorbea Y Salsa Picante @ Bryant Pk. 6/23/00

The Salsa Romantica (or as some of us referred to it, the Salsa Monga) craze sparked a desire among many to return to the straight up, in your face Salsa Dura we had known in the 70s. Where the sidemen were more then just stage props with an instrument and their soloing contributions would be appreciated. Where the band consisted of more then some pretty face up front with everyone else struggling to read their charts in the dark. Wayne took up the challenge and Salsa Picante is one of the results. A "AAA" video.

Timbalaye.....need I say any more?

Bryant Park, NYC 6/23/00, a AAA video.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Miguel Zenon - Article

(Miguel Zenon Project, Photo Credit: NY Times)

In one of our early posts we highlighted the fact that Miguel was one of the winners of the prestigious MacArthur Grant. Miguel being one of the young lions tearing it up nowadays has been working on his own Latin Jazz project with an emphasis on the rhythms of Puerto Rico, or more specifically, "Plena". If you look at the picture above in the right behind Miguel is another young lion, Obanilu Ire Allende (son of Papiro Allende) and percussionist extraordinaire.

Check out this article I found on the times:

When the jazz saxophonist and composer Miguel Zenón visits his native Puerto Rico to see his mother and other relatives every year around Christmastime, he rarely hears any jazz. Instead he’s surrounded by plena, a century-old Afro-Caribbean musical tradition, a kind of movable street-corner folksong.

Plena is made with three different-size panderos (like tambourines without the cymbals) and voices singing about island myths and scandals, cultural identity, political reality, love and plena itself.

“It’s really common,” he said in an interview last week in Washington Heights, where Mr. Zenón, 31, now lives with his wife, Elga Castro, a Ph.D. candidate in political science at the New School. “And it’s so simple that you find it at a basketball game, at church — anywhere.”
Panderos are easily portable, as opposed to the barrel-shaped drums used in bomba, another island music. And the four-beat plena rhythm has also been part of the holiday-season ritual of parranda, which is akin to Christmas caroling: surprise late-night musical visits to the neighbors.
Part of the jazz tradition is using whatever’s in front of you, and Mr. Zenón, a New Yorker since 1999, has done this before. His album “Jíbaro” (Marsalis Music), from 2005, dealt with the song form of Puerto Rican back-country troubadours, and it had a preoccupation with numbers, particularly in the décima, a 10-line stanza with specific rhyme schemes.

"Jíbaro” threads Puerto Rican folklore through small-group jazz played at a high level, led by Mr. Zenón’s limpid and graceful alto saxophone sound. The album helped establish Mr. Zenón as one of the important contemporary revisers of Latin jazz and spread his reputation for delivering excellent music from a complicated premise, a reputation that reached the secret committees of the MacArthur Foundation, which awarded him one of its $500,000 “genius” grants in September.
This year Mr. Zenón also received a Guggenheim research grant and took a long fact-finding trip back to Puerto Rico. To ask for introductions to the living plena masters, he sought out Hector (Tito) Matos, a plena practitioner who has played with the long-running New York band Los Pleneros de la 21, as well as his own group, Viento de Agua.
Mr. Matos pointed him toward historians and older musicians like Modesto Cepeda and Ismael (Cocolai) Rivera so that Mr. Zenón could understand the music’s origins and functions. He learned about the subtle differences, for instance, between the San Juan-style use of the open hand on the pandero and the slower-tempo “punta de clavo” fingertip style of Mayagüez.
An insight from Ramón López, an ethnomusicologist who has written about plena, helped Mr. Zenón with his work. “He said something to me about how the moment you put plena onstage, it’s not the real thing anymore,” Mr. Zenón said. “So he told me not to worry about it, because it’s already different from what it’s supposed to be.”
Mr. Matos said: “That he decided to focus on plena for a whole recording and a whole research project, that surprised me right away. It’s very important what Miguel is doing, to open the music we play to more ears around the world.”
Mr. Zenón used his research for his composition “Esta Plena,” a work in 10 parts: half instrumental, half with singing. (He wrote his own lyrics too: about the nature of plena, about an all-night New Year’s party at Mr. Matos’s house, about political corruption and the disappearance of cultural tradition.) It will be performed for the first time this week, Thursday through Sunday, at the Jazz Gallery in the South Village. The performances feature his working quartet — Mr. Zenón, the pianist Luis Perdomo, the bassist Hans Glawischnig and the drummer Henry Cole — as well as three extra musicians playing plena rhythms and singing: Mr. Matos, Juan Gutiérrez and Obanilu Allende.
Again in “Esta Plena” Mr. Zenón used numbers as an organizing principle. “There are three panderos in plena,” he said. “So I dealt with the number three. In terms of form I wrote a lot of phrases in three or six. Harmonically I started thinking in terms of major-third intervals and augmented triads, and from there I built melodies and chord progressions.”
That the basic plena rhythm is always in four — with the biggest drum accenting the one and three, the middle one accenting the three and four, and the smallest providing improvised accents — didn’t deter Mr. Zenón. Through “Esta Plena” he has kept the four-beat percussive plena rhythm steady, while writing melodic cycles for the rest of the band in three or nine.
If you think that sounds complex, you’re right. (Mr. Zenón graduated from Berklee College of Music in 1998 and had no formal math training beyond high school. Still, he has a math-and-science way of thinking.) Yet his compositions are always clear and organized, and when they’re making references to folklore, they keep the feeling of dance in them.
The number three, incidentally, has no other significance than the three panderos. Mr. Zenón laughed at the notion that it could signify the trinity. “When I write anything, I need something concrete to help me, something outside of music,” he explained. “On another project it might be letters.”
After the shows at the Jazz Gallery Mr. Zenón will record “Esta Plena” for his next album. And — given the financial freedom of the MacArthur award — then what?
He has an idea. Recently, he said, he was watching the documentary “Heima,” about how the Icelandic rock band Sigur Ros thanked the fans in its home country by playing an unusual series of free concerts: in factories, small-town community centers and even in fields and caves. Mr. Zenón said he got the urge to do something similar in Puerto Rico, particularly in small towns and mountainside areas where jazz is almost never heard.
It could make a difference, he said, to play jazz of the sturdiest sort; not his own, but music by
Charlie Parker or John Coltrane or Miles Davis. He might also talk to audiences about improvising, play them records, offer clinics.

“When I grew up there,” he said, “there wasn’t really any live jazz. It was usually background music, and it was always the same eight or nine guys in San Juan. So I saw this movie, and I started thinking: man, if I could do that, just play the music, without having to worry about the business part — tickets, publicity, who’s going to pay the guys, are enough people going to show up — it would be incredible.”

Friday, December 5, 2008

How's this for a Friday night......

As I have mentioned on these pages before, a group of us who had become buddies while attending a class at City College all shared this passion for Afro-Caribbean music in its many forms. The great thing about this group, which included Mike Mena, Alfie Alvarado and myself as the main stalwarts, was the research each would do in finding new venues to explore. Around 97-98 a little Cuban spark plug of a woman had begun a Latin Jazz/Folkloric live music series at a place called the Taller Latino Americano. Her name is Mappy Torres and you will see her in action in future videos. The facility for this non-for-profit organization located on the South East corner of 104th St and Broadway in Manhattan, rapidly became the in place to go to hear the cutting edge Latin Jazz musicians, many of which had recently arrived from Cuba. Stellar performers such as Yosvanny Terry and Dafnis Prieto were seen by American audiences for the first time in that humble space provided by the Taller. The concerts were held in a room perhaps 400-500 square feet in size. One corner was dedicated to the stage area for the performance. There were an assortment of couches, chairs and stools to sit on. Nothing matched and that was the best part. It was like being in your living room and having a great live band playing for you and your family and friends.

Soon after the Taller got rolling, the newly renovated Planetarium, part of the American Museum of Natural History, opened to rave reviews for its design. Dubbed the Rose Center, the Museum began a Jazz series called Starry Nights in which some of the true luminaries in Jazz were featured in this wonderful setting. It was common to find people like Ray Barretto, Dave Valentin or Danilo Perez playing the room. So here we were, Friday night in NY....Starry Nights, two sets of music between 5:30PM and 7:30PM and Mappy's kicking off about 10PM. What to do with those extra 2 1/2 hours; El Malecon! Now the Rose Center is on 81 St. and Amsterdam and the Taller, 104th and B'way. El Malecon is on 97th St and Amsterdam Ave. Now we never use these pages to really plug any establishments, but for the sake of this tale, I'm going to plug the Malecon. It is perhaps one of the finest restaurants, featuring Caribbean cuisine, in the city. The place is small but lively, the service is great, the food is even better and a wonderful time is always had by all.

Several videos, one featuring Ray at the Rose Center and another featuring Mark Weinstein at the Taller have already been posted in the blog. Expect much more in the future. These Friday night outings of ours lasted for several years and we were thrilled by many spectacular performances by a myriad of artists of the highest caliber. The Taller has long since ceased their series and Starry Nights continues in an abbreviated form. We were lucky to catch it in its hey days. Willie

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Timbalaye @ Bryant Park 6/23/00

Another video from the Bryant Park performance, courtesy of the Alfie Alvarado Archives.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Ray Barretto @ the Rose Center 6/1/01

Already in his early 70s at the time of this performance, Ray was completeing his 360. A career more then five decades in the making. From his Jazz beginnings, through rock and pop and some of the very best Latin music ever recorded, he had returned to his Jazz roots in a big way. His last several recordings with his Latin Jazz septet are among some of the most prized items in my collection. This video comes to us courtesy of the Alfie Alvarado Archives. This is a two parter, almost 18 minutes long.

Timbalaye @ Bryant Park 6/23/00

This is the first contribution by Documentarian/Archivist Alfie Alvarado who has generously added to the blogs treasure trove of videos. Alfie has been in the forefront of documenting the Latin/Rumba music scene since 1997. Many of these are rare, one of a kind videos. We are overjoyed to be able to share them with you.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Honoring the Elders......CANDIDO

This quartet was originally organized by Marco Rizo, the famous Cuban composer who gained immortality by penning Lucy's Theme from the I Love Lucy Show. After his passing, Bobby Sanabria kept it alive using the fantastic Eddy Martinez on keyboards at this performance. This particular tune was written by Rizo specifically to show off the talents of the "Thousand Fingered Man" Candido. It's called Afro Samba.

Candido sings.........

We have another jewel here where Maestro Candido sings "Compadre Pedro Juan," a classic Merengue from Santo Domingo. Eddy Martinez, Victor Venegas and Bobby Sanabria give it a new little twist.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

El Gran Combo, en vivo!

Puerto Rico has produced some of the most exciting bands in Latin Musicdom. These include Cortijo Y Su Combo, La Sonora Poncena, Tommy Olivencia's Orch., Willie Rosario and Roena's Apollo Sound among many others. My personal favorite however is El Gran Combo. The combination of swing and polished performances explain the moniker they wear. Here we have videos where they thrill thousands of their fans with two of their time honored hits.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Eddie Palmieri @ Lincoln Center 8/25/00

What can I say, Eddie Palmieri playing AZUCAR on a Summer's night in NYC! How can you expect people to restrain themselves and remain in their seats and NOT DANCE? Well, you will hear the security staff from Lincoln Center booed resoundingly for trying. They failed. My little crew was hoping that Eddie P realized what was going on and not assume the boos were aimed at the band. The magic that is his music has an uncanny affect on folks as anyone who has seen him live can attest to. Que Viva Eddie Palmieri...Azucar!!!!!

Bronx Horns @ Lehman College 8/16/97

Here we have a series of videos from the Bronx Horns. The performance took place in August of 97 at Lehman College's Lovinger Theater. The tunes featured are from both their current CD at the time "Catch The Feeling," and their new one (which had not been released prior to this concert), "The Bronx Horns Play Horace Silver." Ray Vega and Mitch Frohman's talents are abundantly on display throughout.

Bronx Horns @ Lehman College 8/16/97

Bronx Horns @ Lehman College 8/16/97

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Graciela's 80th @ Birdland 8/27/03

There are so many special musical nights in NY. This was truly one of them. Friend and fan gathered to pay their respects to the wonderful Graciela on her 80th birthday. The bash held at Birdland was fantastic, bringing out some of NYs finest musicians to pay homage to this truly great singer. "Gracie" took to the stage to lead what became an all out descarga, featuring David Oquendo on tres, Jimmy Bosch on trombone and Manny Duran on trumpet.

Graciela's 80th @ Birdland, 8/27/03

This video begins with a tribute to Ernesto Lecuona, one of Cuba's greatest composers by one of Cuba's greatest musicians, Paquito D'Rivera and continues with a vintage Graciela bolero.

Monday, November 10, 2008

La India from on high!

Say what you will about La India, the woman can belt out a song. That powerful voice is unmistakably hers. I heard her begin to sing when the band started playing, but couldn't see her. Then I looked up, and suspended above the concert throng was India 4o feet over our heads in a cherry picker raining down her lyrics for our mutual consumption. Her "publico" ate it up as she sang one of her biggest hits.

Eddie Palmieri...up close

Some videos are harder to shoot then others. This one certainly tested my patience. I found myself in a Mosh Pit of paparazzi hell bent on getting their own shots. This will ceretainly be reflected in the video quality. I had to hold my ground to get what I got. It was worth the fight to hear Eddie P's vintage solo however and it is after all a labor of love. I don't have the exact date of the concert recorded. My guess is the late 90's.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Tambo Reunion, Knitting Factory, 1/27/98 pt.I

In 1973 Alegre Records put out an album by a group of young Latin musicians under the name Tambo. Directed by a very young Louie Bauzo, Tambo would be a cradle for many who would make their careers playing this music. In 1998, they celebrated their 25th anniversary with a concert at the famous Jazz emporium, the Knitting Factory in NY. Here is their dedication to Latin Jazz in general and Dizzy Gillespie in particular. The Manteca Suite was arranged by Jose Madera and is almost 17 mins. long.

Tambo Reunion @ Knitting Factory 1/27/98 pt.II

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

"Perspectiva Fragmentada" - John Santos Quintet (Machete Records)

I am a big John Santos fan, but moreso for his folkloric offerings (i.e. Kindembo, Batachanga). John always manages to get great rumberos and percussionists together to record as a cohesive unit, it never sounds forced in other words. Sandy Perez, Willie Ludwig, Yaya Maldonado, Roberto Borrell are some of his regular guests.

But when it comes to Latin Jazz, he ain't no slouch either. "Perspectiva Fragmentada" is no exception. John fearlessly takes us on a journey through concepts made reality and recorded with a tenderness and attention to detail that only comes from truly having a respect for the traditions while forging ahead.

I won't go into too much detail, but I have been pumping this in the car for a couple of days and it just refuses to get old and tired. "Campana La Luisa" starts as a Palo song, then bembe, then son, then afro! I can't remember the last time I heard an Afro tune that wasn't recorded during the Golden Era of Latin Music. "Not in Our Name" is another great tune which seems to be taken straight out of "Miller's Crossing" only with bata thrown in for good measure.

Check out this review:

A musician’s perspective is their unique view of the world, shaped by their life and shared through music. Life experiences shape a musician’s perspective in many ways; every event in a musician’s life has an effect on their overall perception of the world. Upbringing, ritual, and tradition all foster a musician’s cultural perceptions, and the value that they place upon their heritage. Exposure to other lives and beliefs can expand an individual’s perspective, helping them look at the world through another person’s eyes. As musicians translate their perspective into sound, that worldview, background, and exposure shines through their compositions...

(click below for the whole review)

Friday, October 31, 2008

Chico in St. Mary's Park, South Bronx, 8/1/00

Here are two more videos of the fantastic Chico O'Farrill Orchestra from the St. Mary's Park concert. I'm hoping that these videos will have the effect of making some of you Google Maestro Chico's name and read about what greatness in this music truly is. Arturo, Chico's son, has kept his legacy alive and has several wonderful recordings, the latest of which is called "Song For Chico." I highly recommend this latest release.

Chico in St. Mary's Park, South Bronx, 8/1/00

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Another Spoooooky Event...

From the ZDB website:

Zon del Barrio @ Gonzalez & Gonzalez for Halloween, Oct. 31st
On Halloween Night, come and dance to the beats of ZDB 7 @ Gonzalez & Gonzalez on Oct. 31st,. @ 11:30 p.m. when we take the stage in costume. G&G is located @ 625 B'way & Lafayette Streets, there's a free salsa dance lesson @ 10 p.m. a full bar and great Mexican food

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ray Santos' Orch. 8/4/98 Wagner Park

The next series of videos is from a performance by Ray Santos' Caribbean Experience as they are formally known. Ray has put together a great group and has two invited guests as well. "Chocolate" Armenteros and Joaquin Olivel play trumpet and flute respectively on several of the tunes.

Ray Santos' Orch. 8/4/98 Wagner Park

Ray Santos Orch. 8/4/98 Wagner Park

Ray Santos' Orch. 8/4/98 Wagner Park

Patato in da hood...

One of the great things about Willie's Steakhouse, was that here it sits in the middle of the neighborhood, totally accessible to all. You just never knew who was going to show up on any given Wednesday night; Latin Jazz night. Here we have Joe Santiago on bass, Edsel Gomez on keys, Patato on congas and "Chocolate" Armenteros sitting in on trumpet. If anyone can identify the saxophonist please let us know so that we can give him his props. Listen to them swing through this guajira on that night in '97.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Legend Plays the South Bronx

A little less than a year before his passing, Chico O'Farrill brought his Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra to St. Mary's Park in the South Bronx. When speaking about Latin Jazz, an often misused, misunderstood term, one cannot leave out the influence of the great Chico O'Farrill. The triumverate is without question, Machito (with Mario Bauza's unquestionable influence), Dizzy Gillespie, who was enraptured by the clave driven sounds he heard and Chico O'Farrill, the composer/arranger par excellence of the early stages of the genre. Here we present three of his pieces including the Afro Cuban Suite written for Machito and featuring among others Charlie Parker when first played and recorded. Only 60-70 people showed up for this concert. Chico O'Farrill in the midst of the community, gone unrecognized for the most part. It behooves those of us who love this music to make sure that successive generations do not lose sight of the influences upon which the contemporary is built. Among the great players gracing the stage are Arturo, Chico's son, on piano, Andy Gonzalez on bass, Joe Gonzalez on bongo, Rolando Guerrero on congas, Robbie Ameen on traps, Papo Vasquez on bone and Mike Mossman on trumpet.

Chico O'Farrill Orch @ St. Mary's Park 8/1/00

Chico O'Farrill Orch @ St. Mary's Park 8/1/00

the Chico O'Farrill Orch in St. Mary's Park 8/1/00

Friday, October 24, 2008

Our Man In Dublin

Another offering from Havana Son features Cuban Music, coming from Ireland, sung by a singer in French and seen here in the US of A! Ya gotta love it. Conor Guilfoyle's Havana Son embraces a true world music view and we are happy to share it with you.

Ray Vega @ the Nuyorican Poet's Cafe

"El Manicero," the Peanut Vendor is one of the tunes the started it all. Here Ray and the group play their rendition of this time honored favorite. The tune takes an unusual twist into a Latin Jazz tune which fluctuates between mambo and straight ahead time.

Yayo El Indio, Wagner Park, 9/12/00

The Wagner Park concert series reached it's peak when Mario Torres, it's promoter, began using it to present the Bobby Capo awards for excellence in the field of Latin music. Two of the recipients appear on this video. Yayo El Indio had a long and illustrious career. Yayo sang with just about everyone but I remember him as a member of the great Alegre and Cesta All Stars bands. Here we see a rare glimpse of him shortly before his demise. Also receiving the award that day was Bobby Valentin. I suggest you Google both of these gentlemen and marvel at how extensive their careers truly are. The Pacheco band playing a charanga classic, ended the evenings festivities.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Bronx Horns @ Lehman College, 8/16/97

The Bronx Horns represent some of the very best players of Latin music coming out of NYC. Many of them no longer call the city their home, but you better believe, this is where they learned their craft and got their individual groove. Ray Vega, Mitch Frohman and Craig Rivers front the band on horns and the rhythm section is Oscar Hernandez on keys, Bernie Minoso on bass, Jimmy Delgado on tims, Jose Madera on congas and Johnny "Dandy" Rodriguez on bongo and guiro. This is a two parter because of time constraints.

Bronx Horns @ Lehman College 8/16/97 pt.II

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Harvey Schwartz and Eye Contact

Harvey Schwartz or as he is affectionately known in the Latino music world, Harvito Suarez, played at the Taller Latino Americano on 104th and B'way on 5/19/01. Here he is leading his group Eye Contact at one of Mappy's many productions.

Eddie's slow burn @ Lincoln Center

This is another offering from the Eddie Palmieri concert @ Lincoln Center. I had never heard Eddie play this particular tune before but what a crowd pleaser it turned out to be. The solos from the members of the band are SMOKING to say the least. Summer in NY...nothing like it! The tune is close to 14 minutes long so I had to present it in two parts.

Eddie's slow burn @ Lincoln Center pt.II

Tito Puente @ the Latin Quarter

Here's another segment of that big band sound like no other. Tito swings through a rendition of his classic "Oye Mi Guaguanco."

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Ray Vega @ the Nuyorican Poet's Cafe

Here we have another outing from Ray with one his groups. Featured on sax is Roger Byam and Igor Atalita on keyboards. Adam Weber, drums, Bernie Minoso, bass. and myself round out the sextet. The performance dates from 9/21/97.

Candido Sings.....

Here we have a rare glimpse of maestro Candido not only playing but singing also. There are some inspired solos from Eddy Martinez, Victor Venegas and Bobby Sanabria as well. The cuarteto pays homage to the classic Son De La Loma.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Willie Rodriguez recital @ Teacher's College, a series

This is our first series. The quality of the music and the personnel called for nothing less. In pursuit of his advanced music degree, Doctor Rodriguez had assembled a fantastic group to assist him in this endeavor. Eddie Montalvo, Victor Venegas, Nicky Marrero, Dave Valentin and Angel Rodriguez all make appearances. Willie has played with the likes of Johnny Pacheco, Conjunto Libre and Machito. You can't get much better then that in terms of experience. The videos are short, 5-6 minutes each but are power packed with great solos.

Willie Rodriguez recital @ Teacher's College

Willie Rodriguez recital @ Teacher's College

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Willie Rodriguez recital Teacher's College NYC

Willie Rodriguez has been a beacon for both his peer and those youngsters who would choose music as a profession. Currently principal of the Bronx High School of Music, I caught him at his recital for his advanced degree at Teacher's College, part of the Columbia Univ. complex. Here to help him are among others, Eddie Montalvo, Nicky Marrero and Victor Venegas.

Brian Lynch @ Sweet Rhythm

When Brian isn't playing with El Rumbero Del Piano, he can often be found at a local NY club pushing the Jazz envelope. Here we find him and his ensemble (featuring among others Conrad Herweig, Pedro Martinez and Robbie Ameen) doing just that at Sweet Rhythm.

Una Noche en Viejo San Juan

Back in July '98, I took two of my sons to Puerto Rico. Their mother comes from Ponce and although we never did make it to el pueblo de Ponce we had one grand time. One night while strolling around Viejo San Juan, we heard some live music and headed for it. We found a really nice band playing in la Plaza de la Catedral. Check them out.

Una Noche en Viejo San Juan pt.II

Friday, October 17, 2008


Manny Oquendo is a modern phenomenon! Well advanced in age he continues to lead one of the swingiest bands on the Latin music scene today. When I decided to play, Manny was among the first I approached to teach me. He was at the Johnny Colon (of Bugalu Blues fame) School at the time and taught me martillo on the bongo. I'm honored to have been one of his many students.

Another Segment from TRIAD.

The maintenance of a sub-culture (for lack of a better expression) in light of the constant onslaught from the dominant one is a task many are unwilling to assume. It is often a thankless job and one fueled by the individual passions of those who take on the task. The Triad concert, which brought together a veritable who's who to grace the stage was an idea that was supported by three individuals who have accepted this responsibility. Richie Rumbero, Louie Laffitte (Latin Beat magazine) and Henry Medina have all left their mark on the Latin music scene and will continue to do so. Please enjoy the fruit of their efforts.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Conjunto LIBRE @ The Point

Angel Rodriguez' continued efforts to bring quality Latin music to the Hunt's Point section of the Bronx ( in collaboration with the POINT CDC) resulted in an inspired performance by Conjunto Libre. Here is a taste of their efforts in the Point's intimate black box theater, which allows the audience close contact with the band.

Eddie Palmieri @ Lincoln Center

It's Eddie! What else needs to be said?

Eddie Palmieri @ Lincoln Center 8/25/00

I had to fight off the crowd to get this video, so please forgive the motion. Whenever Eddie appears in NY you can be sure that it will be quite a scene. I mean we are talking 40+ years since I have been following his music and the man is still going strong! This was a special night as he shared the bill with the great Hugh Masakela. Those of you who are older fans will remember Ronnie Kuber the baritone sax player. Well surprise! Ronnie was on the gig.

Manuel Valera recital at the New School

In the early nineties and continuing up until today, there has been a steady stream of young Latino talent coming to the Jazz Mecca that is NY. Dafnis Prieto, Yosvanny Terry and a host of others have put places like the Jazz Gallery and the Jazz Standard on the map with their high energy Latin Jazz offerings. Manuel Valera is one of these young lions. I'm not sure if he's home grown or came to NY to make his mark, but make it he did. Here we find him at the New School for Social Research (one of NYs best kept secrets and free to the public) playing a recital for his advanced music degree. Helping him are such notables as Paquito D'Rivera and Ivan Renta. I chose two very diverse segments to show Mr. Valera's range.

Manuel Valera recital at the New School, pt. II

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Andrea Brachfeld at Willie's Steakhouse

Those of you who have been around for a little while may remember Andrea as the flautist for Charanga 76. She has been in the fore front of the Latin Jazz movement in NYC for quite some time now. Here she presents her quintet at Willie's featuring Bob Quaranta on keyboards.

"From Santeria To Swing" Tribute to Tito Puente

On 8/25/01 the Caribbean Cultural Center in conjunction with the Boy's Harbor Latin Orchestra (under the direction of Louie Bauzo), paid tribute to Maestro Tito Puente at Lincoln Center. This is the 2nd and 3rd video from this series and includes tunes from Puente's early career as a band leader. The sound of the orchestra is awesome in my humble opinion.

Tremendo Guaguanco composed by Tito Puente

Anacaona at the South Street Seaport, 9/1/99

NY is extremely lucky to have many venues dedicated to outdoor Latin concerts during the summer months. Among these are Wagner Park, 52 Park and of course the South Street Seaport. South Street is probably the most picturesque being right on the East River and very close to New York Harbor. On this ocassion, Anacaona pays homage to both their past and some of the most famous tunes from Cuba. Anacaona continues a great tradition with several members who are children of the original orchestra members.

La "Vieja Guardia" at Triads

Producer/Historian and friend Ritchie Rumbero put this group together for a gig at NY's Triad Theater on 72nd St. Unfortunately I didn't record the exact date. The band was a proverbial who's who with Eddy Martinez on keyboards, "Chocolate" Armenteros on trumpet, Victor Venegas on bass, Enrique Fernendez on woodwinds, Nicky Marrero on tims and Patato on tumbas. Sitting in are Lil' Johnny Rivero and Angel Rodriguez on shekere.

Wendy Ryan's Mambo Combo featuring Jimmy Sabater

This is another video from the 7/25/01 performance at Willie's Steakhouse. Beside Jimmy, Wendy assembled quite an ensemble for the date. Jose Madera, Victor Venegas, Al Acosta and Walter are on the gig. Here is their rendition of the classic "Pare Cochero."

Eddie Palmieri and Los Pleneros, Aaron Davis Hall

What can you say when two musical institutions join forces to create a new sound based on time honored traditions? On 7/30/99 one such meeting took place in the plaza in front of Aaron Davis Hall in NYs Harlem neighborhood. Eddie Palmieri's "La Perfecta II" and Los Pleneros de la 21 met to play some tunes they had recorded together on Palmieri's Rumbero Del Piano release. The fireworks that ensued swept up the crowd and a great time was had by all.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Steve Berrios Y Son Bacheche - "First World" (Milestone MCD-9234-2)

If you have checked out "Sentimiento Manana" than you know that I will at times submit posts highlighting particular albums that stand out in the world of rumba and percussion. Well, I wanted to continue that here at Street Level, but with a focus more on the "Latin Jazz" side of things. I think its only right that I start by profiling "First World" by Steve Berrios & Son Bacheche.

Steve Berrios first album is as honest as it gets. Straight ahead jazz, rumba, guiro, palo, all come together to somehow form an album as cohesive as it is different. It is as if Steve's various moods were somehow sonicly captured and produced for our listening pleasure. But enough with the abstract thought, let's get down to the nitty gritty.

First World starts out with "Mafranbingo", a great straight ahead Joe Ford arrangement a la Fort Apache. "La Buena Noche Mi Ngo", a Palo tune with Pedro Morejon singing the gallo part and Eddie Bobe and Steve on coro. "Once I Loved", is a great vocal jazz tune, which is followed by "El Nino Rey", a standard in the world of rumba which features the voice of Eddie Bobe and Julito Collazo on Iya. "Talkin' to Myself", is basically Steve conversing with himself through various percussion instruments. "Iremowire", a guiro with Julito Collazo serving as akpwon and playing agbe. "Uranus" is another great tune which fluctuates between straight ahead jazz and rumba, the pianist is not listed but I'd bet money that Larry Willis is at the helm on this one. "Brushin It" is another Steve solo tune, but this time on 3 snare drums and brushes. "Once in a While", a bolero features Freddy Cole on vocals. "Alamofije" a columbia with the late great Julito on lead vocals features Steve on quinto and Eddie Bobe on tres dos. "Deja Voodoo" is a short guiro interlude to "Dale" a rumba with Eddie Bobe on lead vocals and Papo Vasquez on trombone. "Lonely Woman/Acolona" is Ornette Coleman meets bata, with Julito on iya, Steve on itotele, Eddie Bobe on okonkolo, John Benitiez on bass, Eddie Henderson, Joe Ford, Peter Brainin, Papo Vazquez on horns. "Wild Is the Wind" another great smooth jazz tune features a great piano intro by Larry Willis. "Son Bacheche" ends the album with a short Comparsa Santiaguera.

As you can see this is not your typical "latin jazz" album but rather a day in the life of Steve Berrios, percussionist par excellence. Steve has played with the who's who, and can pretty much play everything in the world of latin and jazz percussion. He plays bata, rumba, classical percussion, traps, palo, guiro, brazilian, he even sings. Willie has played some Palo gigs with Steve and if I may quote him, "Steve can play more with one hand than most can play with two."

Do yourself a favor and get this cd. Price is no excuse since Amazon is selling this album so cheap that it can't be legal.

I am going to leave you with a Steve Berrios quote from an article that Eddie Bobe wrote for Descarga.

"Music for me is a life experience. It's not like I'm a musician at 9pm for the first set and when I get off the bandstand that's it. It's something you have to live while you're brushing your teeth or while you go pay your telephone bill." (Steve Berrios, 95')

(Steve, Photo Credit: Steve Berrios)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Patato @ Willie's Steakhouse

El gran Carlos "Patato" Valdez, live and in person at Willie's Steakhouse. Joe Santiago is on bass, Edsel Gomez on piano, and "?" on sax. The late great Patato, el mejor quintero de Cuba, may he rest in peace.

Ray Vega at the Nuyorican Poet's Cafe

Here we have Ray's group featuring, Adam Weber on drums, Bernie Minoso on bass, Igor Atalita on piano, me on tumbas and the addition of Roger Byam on sax. Ray, Bernie and Roger are all Mongo Santamaria alumni and its obvious in their playing why Mongo chose them for his band. The tune is presented in two parts because of space constraints.

Ray Vega at the Nuyorican Poet's Cafe 9/21/97 Pt.2

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Ray Vega at the Nuyorican Poet's Cafe 9/21/97

Ray is a frequent guest artist at the Cafe. This is a little blast from the past and includes Adam Weber on traps, Bernie Minoso on bass, Igor Atalita on keys and yours truly on tumbas. The tune is a tribute to musicologist/writer Max Salazar and is named for him. Ray originally played Salazar with the great Mongo Santamaria band.

Sonido Isleno at Willie's Steak House

One of the groups to emerge in the 90's in NY is Sonido Isleno. The creation of Ben Lapidus, their guitarist, Sonido Isleno has a very unusual sound. Incorporating elements of both Jazz, Funk and the Folkloric music of several cultures, Sonido continues to surprise us with their offerings. This tune, played on a particularly boisterous night at Willie's is an example of some of the humor they often bring to their music.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

"Santeria To Swing" Lincoln Center 8/25/01

On a beautiful summer night, Lincoln Center was host to a great show entitled "Santeria To Swing." Puente's role in the evolution of Latin music is stated here by the fantastic Boy's Harbor Latin Orchestra under the direction of Louie Bauzo. Blausini (sp?) is singing lead on this tune. I will be adding more video of this concert in the future.

Willie Rodriguez and Friends

Willie Rodriguez brings Nicky Marrero, Joe Santiago, Angel Rodriguez and "Chocolate" Armenteros to the original Willie's Steak House, probably around 1998 (?). I had to present the video in two parts because of space constraints. However it's worth watching both parts. The video is not slowing down...it's a feature on the camera called "flash" in case you were wondering.

Willie Rodriguez and Friends pt.2

Monday, October 6, 2008

Video Limitations

Ralph and I are governed by 100mb rule on the Blog which translates out to about 10 mins of video time. The choice we have made is that in many cases it's better to see a sizable portion of a particular video then not use it because it may extend past the limitations. We hope you feel the same and forgive us if the video ends prematurely.

Hector Casanova at Wagner Park

We have another Pacheco classic deftly handled by Hector Casanova. Pacheco, as I pointed out before, was not in attendance but the show went on. This performance was part of an event where Bobby Valentin and Yayo El Indio received the coveted Bobby Capo Award for excellence in the field of music. I will share some of the ceremony with you in the future.

Havana Son direct from Dublin?

Yes, you read it right. Havana Son, under the direction of Conor Guilfoyle, hails from Dublin Ireland and here we present one of their tunes "La Mulata Cubana." One of the most interesting things about the Net is your ability to make friends in far away places. This is certainly the case with Conor and I. I always thought that I had a fairly large collection of Latin music...Conor's dwarfs mine. Conor is a consummate musician and has played with many veteran Jazz cats. He recently recorded with John Abercrombie. His love of Latin music however is what fascinated me and the fact that he took up bongo and formed this band is proof of that love. The lead singer is Evelio Galan. He will be fronting the Cuban All Stars on their US tour beginning in February 2009. So here it is, Cuban son straight from the Emerald Isle. Erin Go Bragh!

Graciela's Birthday Party, Birdland 8/27/03

Graciela's Birthday party hosted by Birdland was a gas from beginning to end. Here we see Phillip Michael Mossman and Paquito D'Rivera, Candido, Avram and Alex (conguero and drummer from AfroMantra) Joe Gonzalez, Ruben Rodriguez and I believe DiMartino (on piano). paying tribute to the great Machito vocalist GRACIELA.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A South Bronx Music Tale

At some point Willie passed along this great article which highlights the early development and proliferation of Latin Music in the South Bronx. It has some great info regarding legendary clubs such as the Tritons, Hunts Point Palace, Club Cubano Interamericano, etc...

Click on the pic to download the article.

(Club Cubano Interamericano, Picture Credit: Herencia Latina)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Cuban Roots Re-Visited

This is our second edition of Mark Weinstein's Cuban Roots. Ben Lapidus is on guitar, Mike Rodriguez and Felix Sanabria handle the percussion. Harvito Schwartz is on bass and of course Mark on flute playing a canto to Elegua, he who opens and closes all doors and is first and last to be honored. The performance took place at the Taller Latino Americano on 4/27/01.

Friday, October 3, 2008

A classic by Pacheco's band

On 9/12/2000, Wagner Park hosted the Pacheco Orchestra under the direction of Hector Casanova. I believe that Pacheco may have been ill that day however the show went on. Herman Olivera was on lead vocal and the inimitable Eddie Zervigon played flute.

Van Lier Fellowship

Felix Sanabria sent me the following:

The Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund of the New York Community Trust provides support for talented, culturally diverse young people who are seriously dedicated to a career in the arts. Meet The Composer administers the Van Lier Fellowship on behalf of the Van Lier Fund of the New York Community Trust.

The purpose of the Fellowship is to provide financial support for young composers in the early stages of their careers, working in any style of music or sound art. Funds can be used for any purpose including the creation of new work, the purchasing of music/tech equipment, travel, or research and development.

The Fellowship is open to African-American and Latino composers thirty-two years of age or younger. The applicant must be a full-time resident of New York City (any borough) and show financial need. The applicant must not be enrolled in a degree-granting program at the time of application (i.e. no students). The one-year fellowship award is $8,500. Additional monetary support will be provided if the composer develops and participates in an educational outreach program with students and/or youth groups. This educational component is optional.

The next deadline for applications is December 8, 2008.

Download the guidelines and application
here »

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Eddie Palmieri @ the Latin Quarter 9/10/98

When I was 16 back in 19#$...Eddie Palmieri was the rave! We would follow the band around and dance the night away to the perfect sound of La Perfecta. One of Eddie's signature tunes, one that was sure to get everyone up on the floor was CAFE. Here we present the band playing that very tune at Eddie's CD release party at the Latin Quarter introducing El Rumbero Del Piano to the world. The tune still rocks after more then 30 years.

Trompeta Tropical @ the Nuyorican Poet's Cafe

Here is another tune from Ray Vega's Trompeta Tropical (the other is in Sentimiento) which was performed on 10/22/98. Oscar Hernandez is on keys, Bernie Minoso is on bass, Victor Montanez is on tims and mambo bell and I'm on congas.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Timbalaye at the South Street Seaport

Many groups play "Latin Jazz." Many are good solid bands. There are however, a few exceptional ones in my humble opinion. Nueva Manteca and the Fort Apache Band are two of them. Then there is TIMBALAYE! Man..what can I say? Listen to this performance y dime tu. The date of the gig was 8/16/00.

Las Mujeres son...son...son!

There's a group of women in NYC who have taken the name RETUMBA and made it world renown. I'm proud to say that the leader, Yvette, hails from the Bronx, my home town and even prouder to say we are friends. I will let the music of Retumba speak for itself.

Eddie with the Tito Puente Orchestra

On Sept. 20, 2000 several months after Tito had passed away, Tito's Orchestra and Eddie Palmieri held a blow out concert at South Street Seaport. Here we see Sonny Bravo give up the piano to Eddie and a rare appearance by Eddie on timbal, which he can play quite well. The percussion section really rips this one.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Los gatos behind El Rey

No man or women for that matter, is an island as the saying goes. This is especially true in a band. A group of artist who have come together, acknowledging one as leader and combining their particular talents to create what we call music. With that in mind, the following is a small photo tribute to those that backed up Tito "El Rey De Timbal" Puente during his last years at the helm. Puente was the heart of this orchestra....these guys were the soul. Can you name them?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Bronx Horns @ Lovinger Theater, Lehman College

The term "All Stars" is used much to liberally for my taste, however when talking about the BRONX HORNS the term certainly fits. Here we have Mitch Frohman and the guys playing some original material at Lehman College's Lovinger Theater with such notables as Oscar Hernandez and Ray Vega in attendance...the date was 8/16/97. Bernie Minoso on bass, Jimmy Delgado on tims, Jose Madera on congas, Johnny Rodriguez on bongo and Craig Rivers on sax round out the ensemble

Bobby Sanabria presents..Eddy, Victor and Candido

One of Bobby's many musical endeavors took shape in the form of a quartet with the late great Marco Rizo of the I Love Lucy theme fame. It was a vehicle to also present the incredible talents of Candido, percussionist extraordinaire. Marco's passing although felt deeply by everyone did not stop the music. Here Bobby has used Eddy Martinez on keyboards and the wonderful bassist (who has likewise passed away) Victor Venegas to accompany him and Candido. The performance took place in a Men's homeless shelter in Brooklyn and was much appreciated by the residents.

This is not a drum circle..it's the real deal. Harrambee

I wanted to share this video of the fantastic HARRAMBEE African drum and dance group. This is Djimbe as it is meant to be played. The performance took place at Lincoln Center on 8/25/00.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Ray Santos' Caribbean Experience @ Wagner Park

There is no sound in the world like a full Latin orchestra. Economic realities have all but relegated them to the past. Bobby Sanabria and Arturo O'Farrill struggle to keep the genre alive. Kudos to them for their efforts. Here however, I managed to capture the wonderful Ray Santos Orchestra paying tribute to Mario Bauza of Machito fame. Wagner Park, located at the very tip of Southern Manhattan was and continues to be one of the great locations for outdoor concerts in NYC. Chocolate Armenteros is the guest trumpet player on the gig. The performance took place on 8/4/98. The name of this particular tune is "Browsin' with Bauza" (info courtesy of Willie Martinez). Of particular distinction is the flautist, Joaquin Olivel from Cuba.

By way of explanation......

Both Ralph Duque and I are working musicians. As such, most of you who are, know that there are those who would take advantage of your talent to enrich themselves. If you haven't faced that situation then more power to you. This being the case, we feel that it is necessary to put everyone at ease as it pertains to their images appearing in the videos shown on these pages. Our pledge is simple. The videos, photographs, and text have two purposes. We want to first and foremost entertain those who visit us. Secondly, we want to educate the public. If any artist appearing in any way finds their image objectionable, please contact us and we will discuss a solution up to removing the video, photo, or text in question. We further pledge that no monetary considerations which may be offered to us will be entertained and those making such requests will be instructed to seek out the artist of interest.

As it pertains to STREET LEVEL PRODUCTIONS, we realize that the word "production" carries with it connotations that can be misconstrued as having to do with business. SLP was formed by Alfie Alvarado and I to promote a cable access TV show for Manhattan Neighborhood Network. The show was called CLAVE CITY and ran for several years. Alfie and I spent hour after hour in both pre and post production as well as attending every musical event we possibly could to build up an archive of material to present on our show. There was absolutely NO monetary compensation for any of this. We were solely motivated by our passion for the music.

The history of SLP is an interesting one. Both Alfie and I found ourselves attending a class entitled "The History Of Latin Music" at CCNY. The professor was none other then the truly GREAT woodwind player Ray Santos. Ray is one of a few lucky musicians that can say he played with the Big Three, Machito and both Titos, Rodriguez and Puente! Needless to say I was in 7th heaven. Several of us in the class became buddies. Alfie, Mike Mena and I began to hang after class at places like Gonzalez and Gonzalez. One day Alfie approached me about taking a video production class and it sounded great. However when I read the syllabus, students were required to attend Saturday morning class down on Hudson and Franklyn streets. Not only did I live in the Bronx, I was working full time, carrying several other classes, had family obligations and time was extremely precious. I balked at the prospect. Then Alfie said the magic words...the class was worth 8 credits. We signed up immediately. As a musician I can't tell you how many times I was playing and had several camcoders pointed at me and I would always ask the people filming to please sell me a copy. I can count on three fingers the number of times I got a positive response to my request. Here was an opportunity to not only document some of my own performances but to do it right. I was able to provide other musicians with copies of their performances as well. Alfie has gone on to become a professional and has had some of her work shown on both HBO and The History Channel. The footage depicts the events at the WTC. She was an eyewitness to the horror. Willie "el Ruso" Everich

*You can read this anytime you like under the "Disclaimer" link on the label tab

Saturday, September 27, 2008

TITO we love you dearly

The following is a small tribute to a giant of a musician. The late, great Tito Puente made the world dance for decades. If you've never been to a Latin dance club you owe it to yourself to experience it at least once. Nothing matches the excitement of a band of Puente's caliber casting a spell on a willing audience of dedicated dancers. This performance took place on 9/3/98 at the famed Latin Quarter. I would be remiss if I did not point out the presence of Mario Rivera, "El Comandante," yet another tremendous loss for the Latin music community. The band is literally a who's who of NY's best, however I would like to make special mention of Bobby Porcelli, a fantastic woodwind player who is seated next to Mario in Puente's sax section.

Cuban Roots...Mark Weinstein's vision

Mark Weinstein played trombone with one of the greatest Latin Bands of all time..Eddie Palmieri's "La Perfecta." It was in that capacity that I first became aware of this consummate musician. Mark and I share a deep love and respect for the Afro Cuban culture and the wonderful music it has produced. This led Mark to record three landmark albums. Cuban Roots, Cuban Roots Revisited and Algo Mas express his fascination with the genre. This video gives us a glimpse into his explorations. The band consists of Mark on flute, Ben Lapidus on various guitars, Mike Rodriguez and Felix Sanabria on percussion and Harvito Schwartz on bass. The performance was recorded at the Taller Latino Americano on 104th and B'way on 4/27/01 and hosted by the irrepressible Mappy. Mappy needs a page for her self. The concert series she sponsored at the Taller became legendary. More on Mappy later.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Los Jovenes Del Barrio rock G&G

One of the hottest bands to emerge in NY in the 90's was Los Jovenes Del Barrio. It began as a Charanga styled workshop at the Boy's Harbor Music School under the tutelage of Johnny Almendra, a staff percussionist at the time. Johnny has played with an impressive array of top notch musicians. The performance you will see took place at Gonzalez and Gonzalez, a great club/bar/restaurant on lower B'way just North of Houston St. G&G is still going strong although Los Jovenes are not. However, they left an indelible mark on the NY music scene and their recordings capture the energy that was NY at the time. Please enjoy the video and you can Google them for information on personnel and recordings available. Eddie Allen is the guest trumpet player on the date.

Roberto Quintero Quintet - Part 2

Part 2 of the Roberto Quintero Quintet @ Arka Lounge in Washington Heights

filmed by Willie Everich

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Wendy Ryan's Mambo Combo @ Willie's 7/25/01

Mambo Combo features some legendary figures in Latin Music. These include Jose Madera, Victor Venegas and Jimmy Sabater. Wendy, Al Acosta and Walter round out the group.

Willie's Steak House, a cultural institution

Following is a glimpse into the past of Willie's Steak House, one of several local clubs that provided Latin Jazz musicians and lovers with an opportunity to stay in the hood and play and enjoy high quality music and food. Willie's has been going strong for well over a decade. After the videos and still shots I wrote a brief history of how Willie's became the WILLIE'S. The vid you are about to see features three giants in the field of Latin Music, Eddy Martinez, Victor Venegas and Nicky Marrero.

Members of Chez back-up Pacheco, Tito and Dave at Willie's

That's me on congas, Danny Hinton on bass, Willie Rodriguez on piano and Al Acosta on sax

La Banda Chez, Danny, Me, Nelson, Vic and Al

Willie Rodriguez and Friends at Willie's Steak House 12/2/98

Willie's becomes WILLIE'S

In the mid 90's Willie's Steak House was located just off of the corner of St. Lawrence Ave. and Westchester Ave. It had been purchased by a gentlemen named Kenny Giordano who in his wisdom had kept the well established name of Willie's. Nelson Sanchez, a piano player with a stint as keyboardist for Ernie Agosto's "Conspiracion" and staff arranger for Fania approached Kenny about starting a Wednesday night Latin Jazz evening featuring La Banda Chez. Chez consisted of myself on tumbas, Victor Montanez on tims, Al Acosta on woodwinds, Danny Hinton on bass and of course Nelson on piano. It became a vehicle for Nelson to play his original compositions for the public and a steady gig for the band. Chez played the first 8 Weds. and established a good following. Soon after, other bands were added to the rotation and Willie's fame grew week by week. Tito Puente, who frequented the restaurant part of Willie's (the food was very good) would begin to sit in with various bands. Visiting Cuban musicians would come by such as Bobby Carcasses and Changuito, as well as locals (who are still going on a regular basis) like Dave Valentin and Nicky Marrero. Willie's eventually moved a few blocks away to a space formerly occupied by Tapestry, a club that was jumping during the 80's and 90's. Kenny eventually sold the club to Mr. Daniel Ortiz. The Weds. night Latin Jazz series is still going strong thanks to Nelson's vision, Kenny's cooperation, Daniel's love of the music and the public's continued support of this cultural institution.

Latin Jazz Alliance at Earth Day, Pelham Bay 4/16/00

One of the incarnations of the Latin Jazz Alliance included several legends in the field of Salsa and Latin Jazz. Featured in this video are Prof. Joe Torres and Victor Venegas. Both of these gentlemen have prominent resumes. Victor has since passed away. He was my great friend and mentor and I still miss him dearly. Google his discography to see how impressive his career truly was. Also in the band is Connie Grossman, flautist par excellence. Victor Montanez, my partner in crime and band mate in as many as ten different groups is on tims. I unfortunately forgot the bongoceros name. My apologies to him at this time. The LJA played at the Bronx Earth Day in Pelham Bay Park for 7 years in a row. We always had a gas. Please enjoy the music.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Roberto Quintero Quintet - Part 1

Willie had the great idea of putting out this video showing Miguel Zenon with the Roberto Quintero quintet, in honor of Miguel winning the prestigious "MacArthur Genius Grant". Winning is no small feat and the grant itself is certainly very sizable, in the amount of $500,000.00 over the next five years. Hopefully this will further enable Miguel to create and develop his sound and music for our listening pleasure.

Here is the blurb:

Miguel Zenon, 31, saxophonist, New York, N.Y. Zenon creates new sounds using his native music of Puerto Rico and a variety of jazz forms as inspiration.

Check out Miguel Zenon's pic for more info about the man himself.

(Miguel on sax, Photo Credit: http://www.miguelzenon.com/)

This is part one @ Arka Lounge. Roberto is on congas and bata, brother Luisito is on traps and traditional Venezuelan tambores (culo e' puya), Luis Perdomo is on keys, and Ruben Rodriguez is on bass. Film courtesy of Willie Everich.

Part 2 coming soon...