Random Notes 7/29/16

Posted by on Jul 29, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Random Notes 7/29/16

Is it me or is this Summer just blowing by? It’s been hot in the SF Bay Area. Roberton from Los Van Van visited the SF Bay and joined locally based Cuban vocal legend Fito Reinoso on stage at the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival’s monthly Thursday Salsa happenings at Jessie Square last week. Our good friend, Luisito Cuba was instrumental in hooking up a visit from Roberton who not only hooked up with Fito but visited SF’s Bissap Baobab after the show for a rumba featuring Roberton on congas and vocals joined by renowned congueros Sandy Perez and Jesus Diaz. Reinoso joined Roberton on vocals. Other visits included the Cigar Bar and Cana Oakland!…Salsa heartthrob Jerry Rivera also visited the SF Bay and headlined the Peruvian festival at Swiss Park….Speaking of Pop/Salsa heartthrobs…El Sonero De La Juventud Victor Manuelle is paying SF a visit on Saturday, July 30 at the Regency Ballroom. N’Rumba is opening up the show which is also featuring DJ Pablo. Coming up: John Santos Sextet at Yoshis Aug. 12. SF Jazz is featuring a Cuban piano summit with Gonzalo Rubalcaba 8/11, Fabian Almazan/Aruan Ortiz 8/12, Alfredo Rodriguez/Ivan “Melon” Lewis 8/13, Harold Nussa-Lopez/Aldo Lopez-Gavilian 8/14 and featuring percussion phenom Pedrito Martinez joining each of the headliners on these string of dates….San Jose Jazz Summerfest heats up the same weekend 8/12-8/14 with a kick-off Salsa block party featuring yours truly from 9 to 11 pm and my radio/dj colleague Jose Ruiz starting at 7 pm at the San Pedro Street Stage. We’ll be throwing down hot music for dancing in the streets so come on by!! Festival performers that weekend will feature the hot Puerto Rican band “Pirulu Y La Tribu” as well as La Maquina Insular, the Bay Area Salsa All Stars, Lizz Wright, Sergio Mendes, Miguel Zenon, Kermit Ruffins, Bobby Caldwell, Jose James and others. Info:...

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Catching Up With Arturo Sandoval

Posted by on Jul 29, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Catching Up With Arturo Sandoval

I feel invigorated after catching a set from virtuoso trumpeter, multi-instrumentalist and entertainer Arturo Sandoval at Yoshi’s this week. Sandoval, whose illustrious history includes being one of the founding members of the famed Cuban supergroup Irakere, a protege of the legendary jazz icon Dizzy Gillespie and currently enjoying an acclaimed solo career, was in fine form fronting a top notch band of ace players. Sandoval whose winning combination of his sharp sense of humor, effervescent personality and phenomenal playing easily won over the packed Yoshi’s crowd. He played a few selections off his current “Live At Yoshi’s” recording including an explosive Funk to Salsa tour de force version of the classic “El Manicero” featuring Sandoval on vocals, trumpet, keyboards and timbales! His jazz selections were sublime including his version of “A Night In Tunisia”! It’s great to catch up with greats such as Arturo Sandoval who is definitely alive and...

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OMCA 2nd Fridays are Smokin’ En Clave!

Posted by on Jul 14, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on OMCA 2nd Fridays are Smokin’ En Clave!

It was a joy to DJ for a crowd of diverse, beautiful folks at the Oakland Museum last Friday, July 8th for their Friday Nights at the OMCA. The great Cuban vocalist Fito Reinoso and his Ritmo Y Armonia was the featured band and they did smoke with their energized, hypnotic brand of Timba and Son “para el bailador”. I was behind the wheels of steel playing hot Salsa, Timba, Mambo, Son, Guaguanco, Reggaeton and Merengue to the packed masses on the Oakland Museum outdoor dance floor. It’s a great scene and it’s free every Friday night. Every 2nd Friday is devoted to Latin music with rotating bands and DJ’s. For more information, visit their web site at Check it...

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Jose Mangual Jr. – Still Swinging and coming back to Northern Cali!

Posted by on Jun 16, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Jose Mangual Jr. – Still Swinging and coming back to Northern Cali!

One of the enduring figures in Salsa, the renowned vocalist, percussionist and record producer Jose Mangual Jr. will make a rare appearance at the 38th Annual Western Region Puerto Rican Council’s El Dia De San Juan scholarship fundraiser at History Park, 1650 Senter Road in San Jose this Saturday, June 18 from 11am to 7 pm. Jose Mangual Jr. is one of two musician brothers born to Jose Mangual Sr., legendary percussionist with the Machito Orchestra and other giants of the Cubop/Mambo era. Jose joined a youthful orchestra led by a budding trombonist Willie Colon in 1968 which featured vocalist Hector Lavoe, conguero Milton Cardona and timbalero Louie Romero. This band was to make musical history with a fresh take on NY Salsa combining jazz, boogaloo, street smarts and the urbanization of PR jibaro music in it’s mix and produced many hits. Mangual performed with Colon until 1977 when he took over musical direction of Hector Lavoe’s new band. He later started his solo career as a singer, musician and record producer. Mangual produced his first recording “Tribute To Chano Pozo” as well as his solo recordings, his collaborations with Jimmy Sabater as Son Boricua, the Estrellas Caiman and countless others. He will be reuniting with Louie Romero (Colon alumni) on this special...

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Los Van Van – A Giant of a live band with an enduring legacy!

Posted by on Jun 16, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Los Van Van – A Giant of a live band with an enduring legacy!

The other great one-of-a-kind band that I caught live was the legendary Los Van Van who made their annual SF visit to the Herbst Theatre (which isn’t the ideal place to catch this fabulous dance band – what we have to put up with to see our favorites!) Once I got to the Herbst, I forgot about my seat and stood with the dancing masses near the front of the stage. What an incredible show! The front line of vocalists/show people: Mandy Cantero, Roberto “Roberton” Hernandez, Yenny Valdes and Lele Rosales just had the crowd in the palm of their hand with great singing, charisma, knockout dance moves and irresistible call and response. Leader/drummer/timbalero Samuel Formell was all smiles as he was having a great time leading this dynamic intergenerational band with a sound that’s a force of nature made up of 3 trombones, 2 violins, 2 keyboards, bass, conguero, guiro and background vocalist. Performing new material and crowd favorites, Los Van Van conquered the Herbst crowd. By the time that they performed “Te Pone La Cabeza Mala” as their final song of the set, the crowd was standing up, dancing and ready to party the whole night! Unfortunately, this is the United States and prestigious gigs end early. The fortunate thing for all of us is that we can look forward to Los Van Van to visit us again in the...

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SHO – One of two great one of a kind bands – caught live!

Posted by on Jun 16, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on SHO – One of two great one of a kind bands – caught live!

I may have missed the phenomenal Oscar D’Leon at Carnaval SF this year but I caught two of the best live bands in the planet. One of them is the Spanish Harlem Orchestra led by pianist/musical director Oscar Hernandez. SHO wowed the Carnaval weekend audience at Yoshi’s! What a great live Salsa orchestra-SHO played phenomenally and with passion. The front line of great vocalists, Marco Bermudez and Carlos Cascante were joined by new member Jeremy Bosch on vocals and flute replacing Ray De La Paz. The coros were on the money and the band sounded incredibly tight. The repertoire of predominately original material and the Tito Rodriguez cover “This Is Mambo” was top notch for both the listener and the dancer. SHO were missing 3 members of the band! However, timbalero Joey De Leon, trumpeter Mike Olmos and trombonist Jaime Dubberly played in top form that you marveled that they were subs for great musicians. They joined incredible players such as trombonist Doug Beavers, saxophonist/flautist Mitch Frohman, conguero George Delgado, bassist Jerry Madera and percussionist Jorge Gonzalez. Spanish Harlem Orchestra reminded me of their commitment to Salsa Dura and the greatness of that musical art form that is still thankfully alive and...

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Compania All Stars in San Francisco!

Posted by on May 25, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Compania All Stars in San Francisco!

The Compania All Stars, acclaimed dance troupe from Santiago De Cuba has been performing and visiting around the SF Bay Area. They have just performed at the Brava Theater in SF’s Mission District the weekend of May 21st and 22nd. The troupe is scheduled to make a couple of performances that are free to the public at SF Carnaval on 17th & Harrison on Sunday, May 29th at 2 pm and at the De Young Museum Friday Nights on Friday, June 3rd starting at 5 pm. I have the honor of emceeing this free event which features their performance as well as dance lessons taught by Ryan Mead and Sidney Waverling and their Rueda De Ritmo dance company at 5 pm and 6 pm. The Compania All Stars will start their performance at 7...

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India comes alive in SF!

Posted by on May 7, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on India comes alive in SF!

The “Princess of Salsa”, India visited the SF Bay Area to a packed enthusiastic crowd of her fans at Roccapulco last weekend. India still possesses a tremendous singing voice and still displays a lot of heart, warmth and soul into her performances. I haven’t seen her in a long time but was impressed with her joy, her ability to connect with her audience (she wasn’t afraid to talk to us) and her professionalism. Backed by her musical director, the incomparable pianist and one of the former architects of the late RMM Sound, Isidro Infante and a hand picked group of crack local musicians, India tore it up with her repertoire of chart hits, beloved songs and a great tribute medley to her idol Celia Cruz. India is still an important artist who is able to connect in the commercial market but astute enough to deliver the real goods in...

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SF Is Still The Place To Be: YGB Fest w/Pedrito Martinez & Issac Delgado

Posted by on May 7, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on SF Is Still The Place To Be: YGB Fest w/Pedrito Martinez & Issac Delgado

The last few weeks have been a blur with great musicians making the San Francisco Bay Area the place to be for live music happenings! Two Cuban dynamos: the amazing Pedrito Martinez Group with special guest, iconic star vocalist Issac Delgado opened up the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival with a timba infused bang on Sunday, May 1st! The Pedrito Martinez Group has been turning heads with their huge timba/jazz sound performed entirely by four musicians led by the phenomenal vocalist/percussionist Pedrito Martinez. A lot of folks were anticipating an Issac Delgado concert but he was featured as the special icing on the cake on a couple of explosive descargas(or jam sessions) along with his son, Issac Jr. The crowd was still fired up from the dynamic musicianship and fiery call and response provided by Pedrito Martinez who was in fine voice along with his powerhouse group. Pedrito is also a phenomenal talent on congas and the sacred bata drums! I had the pleasure of interviewing both Issac and Pedrito on my radio program Con Sabor the night before the concert. During our on-air conversation, Issac let me know that he would be coming back with his orchestra in July! Both artists are dropping new albums in the new few weeks. Pedrito’s “Havana Dreams” will be coming out on Motema and Issac’s “Made In Havana” will be coming out of Sony...

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SF Int’l Film Festival Part 2

Posted by on May 7, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on SF Int’l Film Festival Part 2

This year’s SF International Film Festival offered a diverse series of films and happenings. The strong Spanish/French/Uruguayian erotically charged comedy “The Apostate” featured the charismatic actor Alvaro Ogalia in the role of a frustrated man who demands that the Catholic Church remove his name from the baptismal record. A sensational film about the great record producers of our time “Soundbreaking” featured great insightful footage of the late George Martin who was considered the “fifth beatle” at work in the studio with the fab four. This fantastic music documentary also featured such pivotal figures as Sam Phillips, Phil Spector, Rick Rubin, Dr. Dre, Roger Waters, Daniel Lanois and others. The powerful documentary “Under The Gun” is a scathing look at the NRA and the consequences of America’s obsession with guns. The festival presented the screening of the impressionistic 1932 German horror classic at the Castro as their continuing series of combining a classic film with live music…this time provided by Indie electronic rock faves Mercury Rev featuring Cocteau Twins member Simon Raymonde . The results were an errie atmospheric evening with the music further accentuating the bizarre black and white visuals. The festival took advantage of the gentrified trendiness of the ever changing Mission district with screenings, happenings and parties. Despite all of these changes in the neighborhood, the films still took center stage as the festival reinvents itself in the old...

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