Just A Quick Note

Posted on Oct 26, 2015

Just a quick note to say that I love all kinds of music.  My tenure as Music Director at KPFA gave me the opportunity to expand my love of different genres of music.  I have always had open ears and an open mind since I was 10 years old.  And thankfully that hasn’t stopped although my forte in radio is in Salsa, Latin jazz, Musica Cubana and Afro-Caribbean music.  Recently, I caught two great shows.  Vocalist Lianne La Havas from London who sold out The Independent in SF for two nights!  Not bad for someone you haven’t heard about yet.   She was magnetic on stage blessed with a sensational voice.  She was offering her musical mix of urban rnb and folk/pop with jazzy world influences.  Her recording on Nonesuch “Blood” is absolutely intoxicating.  There is no justice in the world if this woman doesn’t blow up to be a major star.   A Jazz icon like Wayne Shorter doesn’t need any introduction.  I was lucky to catch the 80 year old saxophonist at the SF Jazz Center with his all star quartet consisting of pianist Danilo Perez, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Brian Blade. Shorter now sits down while he plays but that doesn’t diminish any of the power, grace and taste of his playing.  It was a sublime, unforgettable evening of world class jazz.  The ensemble was totally locked in communication with one another.  Their performance was inventive, adventurous and energetic.  The music took me away to far away, interesting places.  I had to pinch myself and consider the luck of catching Wayne Shorter and company in this special time and place.  Life is...

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RIP Wayne Gorbea and Steve Pouchie

Posted on Sep 28, 2015

Sadly, we have to say goodbye to 2 great musicians, bandleader/pianist Wayne Gorbea and vibraphonist Steve Pouchie who have left this world too soon.  Gorbea, whose discography goes back to 1972 with his first band Conjunto Salsa but gained immense popularity in the late 1990’s through the 2000’s with his band Salsa PIcante.  His later recordings which included “Cogele El Gusto”, “Fiesta En El Bronx”, “Salsaseando-Salsa Dura En NY” and others were text books for many aficionados who appreciated his old school Salsa Dura sound.  Gorbea also played as part of Manny Oquendo and Libre for a time as well before he released “Cogele El Gusto”. His earlier recordings in the 70’s and 80’s reflected both his brass dominated sound and affinity for Charanga.  Gorbea didn’t record with his band after 2007.  He lost his battle with cancer on Sept. 15th.   Steve Pouchie who died August 28 by a sudden stroke was a bandleader, educator, arranger and producer of the Latin Jazz Alive and Kickin’ cable TV program.  According to Jazz Times, Poutrie became a high school music teacher in 1993 and, in 2004, was awarded theNew York Post liberty medal for his work as an educator. With his ensemble, he performed at colleges, restaurants, nightclubs, political events and outdoor concerts. He has played with or opened for Tito Puente, Charlie Palmieri, Dave Valentin, Bobby Sanabria and others.  In 2002, he released his first recording “Vibe Mania” but it was his 2nd recording “El Puente” released in 2010 which brought him recognition as a talent to be reckoned with.  He collaborated with renowned percussionist Wilson “Chembo” Corniel on that cd as well as his last recording, this year’s “North By Northeast”. Pouchie was known by his fine vibes work, swinging arrangements and great ensemble...

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Ciao, Benny Velarde RIP

Posted on Sep 4, 2015

I received the news via Facebook that SF based Salsa/Latin Jazz pioneer Benny Velarde passed away early this week.  Benny who was a great timbalero, percussionist and bandleader for the Super Combo, one of the oldest and best loved S.F. Salsa bands in existence, carved his legacy on dance floors all over this area. He was also a key player with the legendary Cal Tjader Latin Jazz band in the 1950’s, recorded with Mongo Santamaria and Joe Loco among others, shared stages with master conguero Francisco Aquabella and collaborated with pianist/composer Lalo Schifrin on the extremely rare “La Clave” recording in 1973.  I remember dancing all night long to Velarde’s explosive Super Combo at old haunts such as El Senorial, The Reunion and Bimbo’s 365 Club.  His last recording “Viva Velarde” released in 2002 captured his Super Combo with an updated take on his classic sound featuring John Calloway, Sal Nunez, Anthony Blea and Ray Martinez of Azabache fame.  He was also a columnist and music critic for the Mission district newspaper El Bohemio for many years. Benny has been inactive for the last few years due to illness.  But his passing was sad and unexpected news.  It is indicative of the end of an era in SF Bay Area...

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Frankie Negron-Pop Salsero aiming to reenter the Charts

Posted on Aug 24, 2015

The San Francisco Bay Area/Northern California has been visited by Salsa acts that have targeted the younger demographics in the last few weeks: Frankie Negron who headlined the Festival De La Isla in Vacaville this past weekend as well as the Venezuelan duo Severano and Florentino who visited S.F.’s  Roccapulco.  Negron, who hasn’t put out new music in four years, is coming out with two new singles this year hoping to land back in the charts. He stated during our radio interview that he is concentrating on the songs rather than an entire new album because he believes that the music business has changed due to streaming and downloading music. He said that the emphasis is now on individual songs and believes that is the path to new success.  Negron has been touring and has been focusing on live shows which has been impressing crowds with his high-energy performances.  Negron who has mixed elements of pop, funk, rn’b and reggaeton in his Salsa for most of his career is also hoping that his live performances will open up the door for further success. Negron who is no newcomer on the scene has had his share of hits since starting his career in 1997.  He is reinventing himself as are other artists that emerged in the 1990’s and who are trying to make a comeback on the charts.  Whether Negron is successful or not will depend on the popularity of the songs.   Judging by the positive reaction to his performance at Festival De La Isla this past weekend and a booking at the prestigious New York Salsa Congress set for early September, Negron is on his...

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