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Havana Jazz Festival 2018 Part One

Posted by on Jan 29, 2018 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

I have just returned from attending the 2018 Havana Jazz Festival in Cuba which was officially named the 33rd Festival Internacional Jazz Plaza which took place from January 16th through the 21st.  I was warned about delays in shows, last minute cancellations and the lack of organization of this festival.  So I travelled to Havana prepared for the worst and hopeful for the best.  I was delighted to have been pleasantly surprised with great shows from tremendous musicians from both Cuba and abroad that ran on time at a variety of different venues.  The festival is similar to South By Southwest in the US where multiple shows are presented at the same time at different venues.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t great weather in Havana during my stay: it was wet, rainy, windy, cold and overcast for almost the entire week of the festival.  But I didn’t let that stop me for taking in the wonderful music and culture of Cuba. I was fortunate to catch the following shows during my week stay in Havana: Bobby Carcasses with guests Maraca, Yosvanny Terry, Don Poncho Terry and Roberto Carcasses, Chucho Valdes with his band and special guest Joe Lovano, Timbalaye, Pablo Menendez and Mezcla with special guest John Calloway, Edsel Gomez Triumvirate with Maraca, Pancho Amat with Javier Colina and Julio Padron, Yosvanny Terry Quintet, Pupy Y Los Que Son Son, Orquesta Aragon collaborating with Michel Herrera with special guests Alain Perez, El Noro, Maraca among others, Roberto Carcasses & Trio Salvage, Ocho Y Mas with Bobby Allende, Marc Quinones, Jimmy Bosch, Haila, Alain Perez, Alexander Abreu and Osain Del Monte, Alain Perez and Orchestra, Alejandro Falcon with special guest Michel Herrera, Ramon Valle Trio, Elito Reve Y Su Charangon, Rumberos De Cuba, the Cesar Lopez Havana Ensemble, Roberto Fonseca with special guests Eliades Ochoa, Maraca and X Alfonso. I had a phenomenal time as I discovered the city of Havana, met musicians, reunited with friends from the SF Bay who made the trip and musicians that I met in the US,  attended extraordinary concerts, researched the music, production and folklore of Cuba and connected with professionals, journalists, musicologists and the people of Cuba who shared their warmth and knowledge with me.  I will go into details of my musical adventures in my next...

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Emceeing: The Thrill Of It All

Posted by on Jan 5, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Emceeing: The Thrill Of It All

I have been asked to MC for tonight’s show featuring Grammy Award Winners Pacific Mambo Orchestra featuring renowned sonero Herman Olivera at Yoshi’s in Oakland.  It’s always an honor to emcee a prestigious show featuring musicians that you admire, support and actually play their music.  Emceeing is an acquired skill honed by years of experience, stage time and learning from watching the best doing their thing. Speaking for myself, it’s not just knowing what to say about the artists that you are presenting but having the knowledge of their music, history and accomplishments.  It’s also the art of presentation, knowing what to wear for the occasion and preparing your introduction.  Hopefully you’ll do it with class and a taste of show biz.  The years of experience will help you develop your own style. When you’re backstage, you’ll also have to deal with your thoughts, last minute script changes and nerves (we all get them) at the moments before you’re on stage.  That all disappears once you are focused and when you get on stage.  You take the microphone in your hand, gaze out into the bright lights and start..”Ladies and Gentlemen, Damas y...

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Con Sabor Top Picks 2017/Salsa-Latin Jazz-Musica Cubana

Posted by on Dec 27, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Con Sabor Top Picks 2017/Salsa-Latin Jazz-Musica Cubana

I am sharing with you my top picks in Salsa/Latin Jazz/Musica Cubana for 2017.  Here are the the picks: Doug Beavers “Art Of The Arrangement” Ruben Blades w/Roberto Delgado & Orchestra “Salsa Big Band” Javier Fernandez “The Eternal Classic 2” Eddie Palmieri “Sabiduria” Isidro Infante “Cuba y Puerto Rico: Un Abrazo Musical Salsero” Arturo Ortiz y 7 Con Calle “Cuentos De La Calle” Yumuri “Changanero” Dayme Arocena “Cubafonia” Septeto Santiaguero “Raiz” Arturo O’Farrill/Chucho Valdes “Familia” Oscar Hernandez/Alma Libre “The Art of Latin Jazz” Hilario Duran “Contumbao” Pacific Mambo Orchestra “Live At Stern Grove” Orquesta Borinquen “Pa Que Tu Lo Sepas” Los Rumberos De La Bahia...

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Benefit for Puerto Rico This Friday 12/1-Roccapulco

Posted by on Nov 27, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Benefit for Puerto Rico This Friday 12/1-Roccapulco

Puerto Rico continues to be in bad shape after Hurricane Maria.  There are thousands of residents still without electricity, clean water, medical supplies and food.  El Vacilon (formerly of Treasure Island) Productions is throwing a bash with great vocalists from Puerto Rico and New York this Friday evening, Dec. 1 at Roccapulco, 3140 Mission Street in San Francisco starting at 9 pm.   The show will feature internationally acclaimed recording artists Frankie Vasquez, Michael Stuart and Mel Martinez.  They will be backed up by great bands such as Karabali, Avance and Taino respectively.  Karl Perazo, timbalero and percussionist extraordinare of Santana fame will be featured with both Karabali and Avance.  DJ’s Carlitos Way and La Niche will be spinning all night in-between sets.  The suggested donation at the door is $25.  Bring your dancing shoes and get ready to sweat to support Puerto...

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SF Bay Represents with New Recorded Music!

Posted by on Nov 6, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on SF Bay Represents with New Recorded Music!

We are so lucky in the San Francisco Bay Area that so many talented musicians make this area their home.  As a result, we are enjoying a welcome surge of new recorded music from these fine talents.  One of the hot, new bands that have emerged in this area is Grammy award winning vocalist/percussionist Braulio Barrera and Somos El Son.  Their new recording “Somos El Son” is a delicious sampling of their explosive brand of Salsa and more.  Barrera, a member of Pacific Mambo Orchestra, is a fine vocalist and exceptional percussionist who leads a top notch band of Bay Area based heavies who packed a tremendous swing.   The veteran group of bad boys Orquesta Borinquen have returned with their new recording “Pa Que Tu Lo Sepas”, their follow up to their 2007 cd “El Trombonista”.  Their new recording is full of great arrangements, a collaboration with special guest Willie Torres of Spanish Harlem Orchestra fame and slammin’ tunes.  The band now led by trumpeter Bill Ortega Jr. and featuring vocalist Carlos Xavier shines on this recording.  A strong effort from this fine band.   Percussionist Silvestre Martinez has put out a fine Latin Jazz recording “Vengo De La Costa”.  Martinez whose credits include performing with Louie Romero’s Mazacote and the renowned Charanga orchestra La Moderna Tradition has a distinctive Mexican flavor interwoven into his Latin Jazz fabric.  Check out the tracks “Wildcat” and the title track to appreciate his unique approach....

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Essential Recordings/Fall 2017 Listening

Posted by on Sep 25, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Essential Recordings/Fall 2017 Listening

I want to share with you a list of fine recent recordings that you should pick up on now.  As we all endure the turbulent, worrisome and absurd nature of these times with President Loose Cannon at the helm, these music recommendations will uplift your spirit and soul.  My heart goes out to the people of Puerto Rico and Mexico as they struggle to rebuild their lives.  Great music often gives you hope, energy and the will to live, listen and dance.  Here are my picks: Ruben Blades w/Roberto Delgado Y Orquesta – Salsa Big Band – rubenblades.com; Doug Beavers – The Art Of The Arrangement – Artist Share; Eddie Palmieri – Sabiduria/Wisdom – Ropeadope/Eddie Palmieri; Javier Fernandez – The Eternal Classic 2 – Javier Fernandez; Dayme Arocena – Cubafonia – Brownswood Recordings; Mulata Son – Mujer Y Artista (EP) – Mulata Son/Cubamusic.com; Oscar Hernandez y Alma Libre – The Art of Latin Jazz – Origin; Pacific Mambo Orchestra – Live At Stern Grove – PMO; Yumuri – Chanaguero – BIS; Isidro Infante – Cuba Y Puerto Rico: Un Abrazo Musical Salsero – BIS – Vision Musical VYT; Arturo O’Farrill/Chucho Valdes – Familia – Motema; Arturo Ortiz & 7 Con Calle – Cuentos De La Calle – DIG Music; Pedrito Martinez Group – Havana Dreams – Motema; Braulio Barrera/Somos El Son – Somos El Son – Somos El Son...

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Summer 2017 – Live music lives in SF/Northern Cali

Posted by on Jun 21, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Summer 2017 – Live music lives in SF/Northern Cali

Welcome to Summer 2017!  I have been on hiatus from posting the past two months due to personal reasons.  However, I”m back feeling renewed and refreshed.  I saw a trio of terrific Cuban and Salsa shows during these weeks: Alexander Abreu and Havana D’Primera were phenomenal at Roccapulco..what a tight and dynamic orchestra!  The huge and talented presence of bandleader/vocalist/trumpeter Abreu was matched by the charismatic star presence of ex-Van Vanero, Mayito Rivera who is quite an exceptional vocalist.  They teamed up on an incredible tribute to Juan Formell with Rivera singing one of Los Van Van’s anthems “Soy Todo”.  Simply a great show. Around Carnaval SF Weekend, I just caught some fine acts such as Grammy Award winner Javier Cabanillas “Cabanijazz Project” smoke it out with guest vocalist Edgardo Cambon as well as the hot “La Misa Negra” with their fresh Cumbia sounds and great stage show.  Also caught the reunion of Ramocue with ex-Los Mocosos Victor Castro and Shorty throwing down the funk Mission style. That same weekend, I caught one of the finest Salsa orchestras in the world today, The Spanish Harlem Orchestra under the direction of pianist Oscar Hernandez at Yoshis in Oakland.  SHO were debuting a couple of songs from their forthcoming album as well as some of the favorites from their last few recordings.  SHO were very impressive with a power packed band including timbalero Luisito Quintero, trombonist Doug Beavers, saxophonist/flautist Mitch Frohman and their explosive trio of vocalists: Marco Bermudez, Carlos Cascante and Jeremy Bosch (also exceptional on flute). The Western Region Puerto Rican Council presented the 39th edition of the El Dia De San Juan Festival at History Park in San Jose.  This year’s festival featured the exceptional vocal stylings of Herman Olivera, one of the top Salsa singers in this day and age and the youthful and energetic Salsa of Norberto and Gerardo of NG2.  Backed by the impressive all-star <strong>Orquesta Taino, Olivera shined with a powerful set of his past hits that he’s recorded with Eddie Palmieri, Manny Qquendo and Libre and his acclaimed recording La Voz Del Caribe.  Olivera’s fierce soneos combined with his smooth dance moves to deliver a great performance which ignited the audience. NG2 kept the energy up with their high octane show displaying their great voices which combined their well-known songs with their new material.  NG2 kept the dancers going with their contagious commercial Salsa sound tailored for today’s audiences.  Taino did a great job backing up both Olivera and...

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Con Sabor – Sat. 4/1/17 9 pm – KPFA 94.1 FM/El Dia De La Salsa, etc.

Posted by on Mar 28, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Con Sabor – Sat. 4/1/17 9 pm – KPFA 94.1 FM/El Dia De La Salsa, etc.

“Con Sabor with Luis Medina” is presenting a special report from this past weekend’s star-studded El Dia De La Salsa in Puerto Rico that starred the iconic El Gran Combo, salsa goddess India and other huge stars. Our guest corespondent, Julio Bravo was there in San Juan covering the concert and all the happenings prior to the concert.  Plus information on the upcoming 60th SF International Film Festival.  Also featuring the hottest new Salsa, Latin Jazz, Musica Cubana and more!  Tune in this Saturday April 1st, starting at 9 pm on KPFA 94.1 FM and streaming on-line at www.kpfa.org where music programs are archived for 2 weeks after...

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Benefit for Jose Ruiz-Casa De Cultura 3/5/17

Posted by on Mar 9, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Benefit for Jose Ruiz-Casa De Cultura 3/5/17

There was a packed gathering of folks at the benefit for esteemed DJ/radio host/community stalwart Jose Ruiz at Berkeley’s Casa De Cultura this past Sunday. Jose is undergoing treatment for throat cancer and the benefit was organized to help him with living expenses during the next few months.  Los Cenzontles, John Santos Sextet with special guests Orestes Vilato and Bobi Cespedes, Orquesta La Moderna Tradicion, DJ’s Carlitos Way and Reyes from L.A. provided the musical fireworks.  KCSM’s Chuy Varela and I had the opportunity to say a few words about Jose and introduce La Moderna and John Santos Sextet respectively.   But the real story was the love and concern of the audience for Jose who has helped many in his community work for such places as La Pena, Los Cenzontles Cultural Center, Casa De Cultura, the Cheeseboard and his late business Casa Latina in Berkeley.  Jose showed up to the benefit, hugged old friends, family and colleagues and danced with a few lady friends and his mother.  Jose was looking thinner due to the chemotherapy but was in great spirits.  He got up in front of the audience to declare that he was going to come back to host his programs on KPFA and KPOO and resume all the wonderful work to thunderous applause. I wish you a speedy and lasting recovery, my brother Jose...

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Hola 2017!!

Posted by on Jan 2, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Hola 2017!!

As we start the new year 2017, I’ll recap what came down during the past holiday season. Los Van Van put on a spectacular show at Roccapulco (although I thought their Herbst Theater show was a better show). Both Charanga Habanera and Alexander Abreu/Havana D’Primera cancelled their SF Bay shows due to inept national producers and visa problems. We missed seeing International and National Salsa acts visiting the area during the month of December and especially NYE. The annual SF International Salsa Congress was sorely missed this year. They would always feature international Salsa greats as headliners. As we enter this new year, a new promising venue Calle 11 is opening South of Market on January 5th at the old Paradise Lounge site at 11th & Folsom St. in SF in the same neighborhood as Slims. The club features 3 floors with a ground floor Salsa club and an upstairs Puerto Rican restaurant. Latin Jazz icon Pete Escovedo has been added to Yoshi’s January lineup on January 21st and 22nd. And…my radio program “Con Sabor” on KPFA 94.1 FM and worldwide on www.kpfa.org on Saturday evenings from 9 to 11 pm is celebrating 20 years on the air! Thanks to all the listeners for your support…2017 will be full of bright moments during this anniversary...

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