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...