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'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.