I saw the future and his name is Aldo Lopez-Gavilan

Posted on Jun 13, 2014

Last night, I was invited to the SF Jazz Festival where my radio station is sponsoring the closing night of a four night run for Juan De Marcos and The Afro Cuban All Stars.  However, I didn’t attend the second night of their run, I was invited instead to see Cuban born child prodigy and piano wunderkind Aldo Lopez-Gavilan in the intimate Joe Henderson Lab space.  Lopez-Gavilan who looked like he was 22, sported long curly hair, a goatee and a boyish smile.  He had an easy way of connecting with the audience with a sense of humor as he had a story for every song he introduced.  He dazzled the sold out crowd with brilliant technique combined with his inventive arrangements and original ideas that revealed a fluid fusion of jazz, afro-cuban and classical music.   I was mesmerized listening to every tune of his magical 85 minute set.  I sensed the importance of this date as if I had discovered a young Chucho Valdes or Gonzalo Rubalcaba in a small club.  I had just witnessed the future and his name is Aldo...

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Celebrating 40 Years In Radio and Broadcasting-Sat 6/21-El Vacilon, Treasure Island

Posted on Jun 3, 2014

Time flies quickly when you’re having fun.  I started in radio back in 1974 when I was still a broadcasting major at San Francisco State University.  I was bit by the radio bug when I observed the late Arturito Santiago hosting his radio show from the old KBRG studios.  A few months later, I was invited to co-host and provide the music for a radio program hosted by my cousin at a new community radio station called KPOO.  I loved all types of music but I was really turned on by Salsa music.  I started to host my own Salsa program and it’s been a love affair ever since.  I was turned out to be my deep passion to expose Salsa music as well as Latin Jazz and Afro Cuban music throughout my career at various public radio stations including KPFA and on commercial radio at KBRG in the 80’s.  My career has blessed me with having the opportunity to interview and work with many of my heroes as well as being the recipient of numerous awards and recognition.  This year, I’m celebrating 40 years of hosting Salsa radio programs and what a ride it’s been!  I’m hosting my program “Con Sabor” on Saturday evenings from 9 to 11 pm on KPFA 94.1 FM  (also on www.kpfa.org) where I serve as Music Director and also host Music Of The World on Mondays. There will be a celebration honoring this milestone in my life on Saturday, June 21st starting at 6 pm and running until 2 am at El Vacilon (Oasis Cafe), 401 California Avenue at Treasure Island.  Two great bands “Son Y Clave” from Hollywood and the all-star SF based band “Karabali” led by Santana percussionist Karl Perazo and Grammy nominated conguero Michael Spiro will be providing the musical fireworks on stage.  Special guest dj’s Jose Ruiz from KPOO and a surprise guest will be spinning the best in Salsa Dura, Timba, Mambo, Merengue, Bachata and more in-between sets.  Tickets are $25.  For more information, call 510-517-1059 or 510-432-2355.   Save The Date!  It’s going to be an explosive and memorable...

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Gracias, Juan Formell!

Posted on May 13, 2014

Juan Formell has been a major musical presence in my mind lately since his untimely passing on May 1st.  As the brainchild of Los Van Van since the beginning, he created a fresh irresistible dance hit sound whose lyrics were as relevant as the daily newspaper in Cuba.  Formell’s genius was in the fact that he connected with the youth as well as every day people for more than four decades.  Los Van Van always had strong personnel but had a dynamic core of Cesar “Pupy” Pedroso, Jose Luis Quintana “Changuito” along with Formell created Songo, a world wide sensation in the 1980’s.  Los Van Van represented Cuba in the same iconic relevance as international giants such as El Gran Combo from Puerto Rico, Oscar D’Leon from Venezuela and the New York based Eddie Palmieri.  I had the honor of introducing Los Van Van for their first San Francisco Bay Area show in 1997 at Maritime Hall and DJ’ing with them at Bimbo’s 365.  The first tour was featuring  the electric vocal powerhouse trio of Pedrito Calvo, Mayito Rivera and Roberto “Roberton” Hernandez – what a great night!  Los Van Van would bring the house down every time that I saw them..the last time was during a multi night stand at Yoshi’s in San Francisco.   I remember interviewing Juan Formell during that first tour to S.F.  He was very generous with his time although he was a bit tired from his trip but that didn’t stop him from expressing strong opinions on Hip Hop to his role as a Cuban ambassador of good will.  I have given my own tribute to Formell on my Con Sabor program lately.  It gave me the chance to break out my old Cuban vinyl and play classics from different eras of Van Van’s development.  Listening to these old classics and the Van Van cds of the last 2 decades gave me another chance to appreciate this monster of a band.  To its leader, bassist, composer, arranger and visionary…..Gracias,...

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Cheo Feliciano R.I.P.

Posted on Apr 21, 2014

It was sad to hear about the passing of one of the greatest singers in Latin music to come from Puerto Rico, Jose “Cheo” Feliciano.  Cheo epitomized the great Salsa soneros and boleristas of his generation.  A voice whose tone was so distinctive that it was easily recognizable from the crowd of great vocalists.  Cheo had an illustrious solo career as well as many great associations with such groups and musicians as the Joe Cuba Sextet, the Alegre All Stars, Cesta All Stars, the Fania All Stars (he was in their lineup of singers for more than 40 years), RMM’s Combinacion Perfecta,  Eddie Palmieri and most recently Ruben Blades (who cited Cheo as a major influence).   On stage, Cheo was a charismatic showman who connected with the audience whether he was passionately improvising on an explosive Salsa song or whether he was melting hearts as he effortlessly crooned a beautiful bolero.  His presence was felt by legions of old and new fans since his career spanned over five decades.  He was an artist who was still very active up until the time of his death as he was part of this year’s grammy nominated Sergio George “Salsa Giants” project and was still was performing with The Fania All Stars on their recent reunion concerts.  As sad as it is to lose an icon as Cheo Feliciano, we are still fortunate to have the recordings of his signature songs such as “Anacaona’, “A Las Seis”, “El Raton”, “Canta”, “Sali Porque Sali” and countless others to remind us of his greatness.  Adios, Cheo…Sentimiento Tu y gracias por su...

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