Tommy Olivencia is lifting me up.

Posted on Sep 21, 2012

I’m listening to the salsariffic sounds of Tommy Olivencia on my headphones.  Furious conga solo dancing in my head through my trusty Sony phones.  Horn section converging within into the jumpin’ descarga.  A timbales solo racing in front of a swinging big band.  It’s being a rough day…things not together..misunderstandings…heated words…tense..momentary setbacks but setbacks nonetheless.  Tommy was celebrating his 40th Anniversary with PR all stars: Paquito Guzman, Sammy Gonzalez, Hector Tricoche, former Bay Area resident Melvin Martinez, Lalo Rodriguez and Gilberto Santa Rosa. Taking me to the dance floor in my studio..big band salsa mania a la puerto rico…they don’t fool around with the salsa in p.r..  Afincado!!!  Bad day going away…Tommy reminds me of la salsa de verdad!  We got to remind everyone that this music still exists.  Chillin’...

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Septeto Santiaguero – Son Sublime!

Posted on Sep 20, 2012

El Septeto Santiaguero have put out a new recording “Vamos Pa La Fiesta” that is a beautiful testament to the Cuban Son.  This compositions are classic but not tired relics of an authentic form of music.  The music is full of excitement, joy, regret, sadness and the gamut of emotions that reflect life’s experiences.  Septeto Santiaguero are not as well known as other groups that perform the Cuban son but this recording may be their big breakthrough.  Not only are they incredible musicians and singers whose vocal timbres and phrasing invoke the spirit of Cuni, Barroso, Valdes and Piniero.  They also feature special guest collaborations from guests such as Ruben Blades, Cheo Feliciano, Jose Alberto “El Canario”and percussionist extraordinare Luisito Quintero.  The result is a rich listening experience which transports you to the island where the Son is a respected national treasure that keeps evolving with every new generation.  You can feel the energy as this solid group performs Son with a certain heartfelt afinque that is truly their own.  I had the opportunity to catch them live at last year’s Tempo Latino festival in France where they tore it up!  This recording should open doors for this fine...

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Tiempo Libre with SF Symphony at Dolores Park

Posted on Aug 30, 2012

One of the fine moments I did have this Summer was my MC stint with Tiempo Libre along with the SF Symphony at Dolores Park this past July. The San Francisco Symphony travelled to Dolores Park on a sunny Sunday afternoon in the Mission last July 22nd.  The community that watched the free show had their picnic spots set up at the Park.  The Mission Cultural Center were involved in this concert with the Symphony along with the SF Arts Commission and the McKesson corporation.  The Symphony brought with them a powerhouse of a band with Tiempo Libre, an exciting Miami based septet made up of Cuban born musicians who are adept at playing Afro-Cuban son, timba and salsa.   I was invited by the San Francisco Symphony to emcee their event at Dolores Park.   I represented KPFA and my program “Con Sabor”.  The park which was packed to the gills by a wide cross section of people from timba aficionados to the trendy “beautiful” people to some folks who wouldn’t have stepped on Dolores Park soil let alone the Mission a decade ago.  However since gentrification has changed the population and landscape of the Mission, the opportunity seemed right for the Symphony to throw this free classical music bacchanal.  The expansive staging and sound were top-notch.  The Symphony were dressed in their Sunday best attire.  The Symphony were set up in a u formation on stage while the center of the stage was set up with Tiempo Libre’s equipment. The Symphony presented their special program of classical music with a Latin theme for the first half of the show.  The Symphony started the second half by playing a short suite before introducing Tiempo Libre.  People moved past the barricades in the large grassy area in the front of the stage and turned it into a dance floor for the duration of the set.  Tiempo Libre was superb.  The band led by keyboardist Jorge Gomez took the stage and tore it up with their musically fat sounding versions of timeless Cuban classic standards such as “Que Bueno Baila Usted”, “El Manicero” and “Son De La Loma”.  The band had a tight and explosive sound while their vocalist Joaquin Diaz danced and grinded “a la timba cubana” while he sang his pregones (refrains) to a happy crowd.  The symphony backed Tiempo Libre sounding like a massive charanga with their string arrangements.   The fired up crowd brought back Tiempo Libre for an encore after they played their set of rehearsed numbers with the Symphony.  Suddenly, the band switched to a hypnotic timba rhythm and the crowd went crazy!  The syncopated sounds of the keyboards, driving synths, funk bass, the fierce polyrhythms of the percussion locked into the timba groove while Diaz led a call and response with the excited crowd.  They managed to get quite a few hands in the air at the SF Symphony concert.  A few Symphony musicians who were on stage dancing in their seats while grooving to the irresistible rhythms of Tiempo Libre!   Thanks to Louisa Spier and the fine staff at the SF Symphony, the SF Arts Commission and the Mission Cultural Center for their support and tireless work at pulling this event off!  It was a memorable afternoon to be a part of this unique San Francisco...

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Posted on Aug 29, 2012

I have been missing in action for most of this summer.  I moved to a new place.  In the process, I missed most of the events, concerts, happenings and even some promotional activities that I set up for the station that I work for and represent.  It’s a mental and physical process that taxes you because of the countless amount of details involved in business transactions, the preparations and packing that needs to be done before a move and finally, in the emotional transition from one place to another.  Change can be exhilarating, frightening, hopeful…in short, the whole gamut of emotions at the same time.  My wife Isidra and I wanted to take the family to a place where my son Adrian would be able to grow beyond the craziness of Oaktown.  So we did it.  We still have business to settle there as well as adjusting to our new surroundings.  There is good news..I am refocusing on activating this blog again because in my life…music really...

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