Been Too Busy To Post!!

Posted on Dec 29, 2009

People it’s been a while since I have entered an entry to this post with good reason. Since Omara, I have checked out Pepito Gomez, the SF International Salsa Congress with NG2 (amazing!) and Andy Montanez (smokin”), Milton Nacimento, Ravi Shankar, En Vogue, introducing the legendary Septeto Nacional De Ignacio Pineiro opening night at Yoshis SF, dj’ing countless gigs with everyone including Santero and being wowed by David Calzado y la Charanga Habanera -their first time in the SF Bay Area since 2000! Talk about a holiday season!

Read More

Omara y mas

Posted on Oct 26, 2009

I have taken a short break from blogging this month but before we get to November. I wanted to share my experience as an emcee for the Omara Portuondo show last Tuesday, October 20th at the San Francisco Jazz Festival. The show took place at the Palace Of Fine Arts theatre near the S.F. Marina. Omara is an amazing legendary Cuban singer who has over 5 decades of a great show biz career including stints with Anacaona, Cuarteto D’Aida, Orquesta Aragon and her own solo career. She was brought to the world’s attention in 1997 as part of the Buena Vista Social Club phenomenom. Her duet with Ibrahim Ferrer “Dos Gardenias” elevated her to the world stage again after a star studded career in her native Cuba. She was so gracious when I spoke to her backstage. She remembered the phone interview that we did close to a year ago when her latest recording “Gracias” was first released. She was particularly overjoyed when I relayed the news to her that an old friend from the island, drum legend Walfredo De Los Reyes Sr. was in the audience. What a set! Omara dazzled from jazz tinged material to son to brazilian flavored compostions expertly performed by her tight supple band. To watch this woman move at her age with effortless passion (she must be in her late 70’s) to a swinging son and singing to a male in the audience was a delight. The power and sensuality of her voice was still evident on moving ballads such as “Adios Felicidad”. After the show, I was able to help Walfredo, Rebeca Mauleon, Emiliano Echeverria, Orlando Cepeda and a few other friends get in backstage to talk to Omara. Just the encounter of Omara and Walfredo was worth it. As soon as they saw each other, they started singing to each other as if they were back in Cuba many years ago. A beautiful...

Read More

Mario Ortiz Jr. All Star Band…awesome!

Posted on Sep 27, 2009

“Tributo 45 Anniversario” on Zamora Music/Sony is the spectacular new recording by the Mario Ortiz All Star Band. The late Mario Ortiz was an esteemed trumpeter, arranger and bandleader who for four decades was an intergal part of the Puerto Rican salsa scene until his death in 1999. His son Mario Ortiz who is also a fine trumpeter has put out a terrific tribute to his dad by assembling a recording featuring the legendary creme de la creme of the scene: Cheo Feliciano, Andy Montanez, Ismael Miranda, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Richie Ray, Bobby Cruz, Papo Lucca, Roberto Roena, Bobby Valentin, Adalberto Santiago, Tony Vega, Pedro Brull, Tito Allen and others too numerous to mention. What exciting music big band style! This gem of a cd is so rich with explosive salsa, latin jazz and mambo (with a touch of reggaeton) that it is difficult not to have at least 4 or 5 favorite tracks. This is simply an exceptional recording from the smooth distinctive vocals of Cheo wrapped around a smokin’ rendition of “A Quitarse” to the closing notes of the cinematic Spanish tinged instrumental “El Cid” featuring Ortiz Jr’s scorching trumpet solo paying tribute to his dad. This will soon to be a collector’s item! Big DJ Alert – you should be playing it already…allright? Everyone else…Pick it up now! A top ten contender for this...

Read More

A New Recording to look out for-Cuban Masters Ensemble

Posted on Sep 8, 2009

Since Labor Day symbolizes to many the end of Summer. I thought that I would suggest an extraordinary recording that will make the transition towards the fall season a bit easier. The new cd by The Cuban Masters Ensemble entitled “Del Pasado Al Presente: Homenaje A Tata Guines” is a tremendous tribute to the late great master conguero Artimedes Soto otherwise known as “Tata Guines”. This giant of a musician was known for his virtousity on the congas, as an integral participant on countless legendary recordings including the 1957 Cachao “Descargas En Minature” sessions and for his trademark cackle of a laugh. This all-star tribute includes a panorama of musical styles including rumba (of course!), danzon, son montuno, descarga and a taste of timba. Expertly performed by an awesome conglomeration of musicians and singers such as Bobby Carcasses, Changuito, Enrique Pla, Pancho Amat, Dagoberto Gonzalez, El Nene, El Indio, Lazaro Galarraga, La Caro Band and others. This recording truly smokes! It’s on the Obanike Music label. It’s worth searching for and picking up! Don’t sleep on this...

Read More