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Latino Music Cafe

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  • Hector Aviles
  • October 10, 2014 07:39:07 AM

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Latin music blog with articles, CD reviews, and interviews.

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Too Early for In-person Concerts

I believe, like most experts, that it’s too soon for in-person concerts. God knows we are tired of this quarantine which has now been going on for over a year. Note: I wrote a blog on the coronavirus a little over a year ago. You can read it HERE. But unfortunately, despite the progress containing […] The post Too Early for In-person Concerts appeared first on Latino Music...

Crowd at in-person concert

I believe, like most experts, that it’s too soon for in-person concerts.

God knows we are tired of this quarantine which has now been going on for over a year.

Note: I wrote a blog on the coronavirus a little over a year ago. You can read it HERE.

But unfortunately, despite the progress containing the Covid-19 pandemic, the virus is not tired of us, we’re not out of the woods and still have a way to go with the virus variants ramping loose.

The vaccines are out on force, and now it’s a race between vaccinations and the spread of the variants.

This is not the time to let our guard down by congregating in large crowds. That’s why many in-person events continue to be canceled or replaced by streaming alternatives.

A year ago, as this pandemic began to spread, I proposed that paid streaming concerts could be a viable alternative for music artists and fans. Today I double down on that statement.

Until vaccinations are at a high percentage of the population and scientists declare it’s safe for crowds to gather again, I believe we need to not get involved with in-person concerts.

Musicians are hurting, yes I get it. But innovative virtual alternatives will have to do until it is safe to get back to crowded places. We shouldn’t risk lives just for pleasure.

I’ll be adding more to this topic on my next blog.

The post Too Early for In-person Concerts appeared first on Latino Music Cafe.


The Departed of Latin Music 2020

This year, 2020, has been a devastating year for all of us, and on top of it all, the departed were great contributors to our Latin music. I’ll make a brief review of those that departed this year. 1. Pedro “Sorolo” Rodriguez (January) – A Panamanian cook, entrepreneur, music lover, and devoted to the Cristo […] The post The Departed of Latin Music 2020 appeared first on Latino Music...

Departed 2020 include Andy Gonzalez, Manzanero and Estremera

This year, 2020, has been a devastating year for all of us, and on top of it all, the departed were great contributors to our Latin music.

I’ll make a brief review of those that departed this year.

1. Pedro “Sorolo” Rodriguez (January) – A Panamanian cook, entrepreneur, music lover, and devoted to the Cristo Negro de Portobelo, Sorolo introduced Ismael Rivera to the Black Christ, and Ismael made sure to mention his name in songs like “El Nazareno”. I had the chance to talk to Sorolo and get the scoop on that story a couple of years ago, which you can read HERE.

2. Angel “Cachete” Maldonado (January) – the master Puerto Rican percussionist was quick to learn the latest from the Cuban master percussionist and bring and teach that technique in Puerto Rico and New York. Founder of Batacumbele, Cachete shared the passion for percussion through playing and teaching.

3. Andy Gonzalez (April) – the great New Yorker bassist, played a key role in the Salsa and Latin Jazz bands of the ’70s and beyond. Along with his late brother Jerry Gonzalez, he co-founded the Grupo Folklorico y Experimental Nuevayorkino, which highlighted and cemented the roots and spirit of African music in the music played in New York. Andy was an ultimate student of the instrument and could play it as well as anyone in the music business, be that in Salsa, Latin Jazz, or anything else.

4. Jose “Joe” Torres (April) – The fantastic and loyal pianist of the Willie Colon band since its early years until his “retirement”, the professor’s playing style was evident in any album in which he participated. His mark was stamped in all those famous albums of Willie with Hector Lavoe, Ruben Blades, and as a solo artist.

5. Jorge “Malo” Santana (May) – known for being the younger brother of the famous Carlos Santana, and with a similar (but a bit different) playing style, Jorge made his mark in Latin music through his electric guitar solo in the Fania All-Stars version of the “El Raton“, sang by Cheo Feliciano.

6. Pau Donés (Jarabe de Palo) (June) – the singer, songwriter, guitarist, and mastermind of this famous Spaniard rock band, Pau was admired by those in the “rock en español” genre and even many outside of it.

7. Victor Victor (July) – the Dominican singer, songwriter, and guitarist was a victim of the Covid-19 virus at age 71. He founded the Nueva Forma musical group.

8. Ramon Lopez (July) – the great Puerto Rican educator, researcher, and author, Lopez knew as much of Plena music as anyone. He wrote a great book on the subject “Bembeteos de Plena“, which brought some new perspectives on the folk rhythm.

9. Thomas “Chucky” Lopez (September) – the New Yorker percussionist was the bongo player of the 70’s edition of the Eddie Palmieri band during those golden years of Salsa music.

10. Frank Lebron (September) – part of the famous Lebron Brothers band out of New York, he was the conga player and percussionist.

11. Carlos “Cano” Estremera (October) – the gifted albino Salsa singer, “el Cano” had an original style, a smooth and versatile voice, and great skill at improvisation. It was rare to hear Cano Estremera repeating “soneos” in a song, even replacing some of the ones he used in recordings, something most Salsa singers can’t do. His erratic behavior in the later stage of his career got him banned in several places, but he always was amicable with his colleagues, which he drilled in “soneo” competitions.

12. Hector “Atabal” Rodriguez (November) – the great Puerto Rican percussionist and founder of the folk music group “Atabal” (meaning drum), left a great legacy and a vibrant group revitalized and led by his son Caymmi. His legacy will endure.

13. Julio Cesar “Tito” Rojas (December) – the Puerto Rican Salsa singer shot to stardom with the Salsa Romantica craze. But I liked Tito’s singing from when he was with Justo Betancourt’s Conjunto Borincuba. He impressed his Cuban boss so much, that he recorded a solo album with Justo’s band in the late 70’s, which for me was a gem as it fully displayed Tito’s voice and sonero instincts. He went solo briefly after Borincuba, with his Conjunto Borincano, in the same line as Justo’s. But success was elusive. After he found it again in Salsa Romantica, his voice eventually changed, and his beloved small town frases of “Peldona sa’e”, “Claro bruto”, and “coge pa’ tu casa” made his a preferred one among salseros.

14. Armando Manzanero (December) – the Mexican singer-songwriter was an icon for many decades, and unfortunately was another victim of the Covid-19 pandemic. Manzanero’s falsetto voice and beautiful love songs made him one of the most recognized singer-songwriters in Latin music history.

15. Elsa Escabí (December) – you probably don’t recognize her name, but my aunt Elsa was one of those “behind-the-scene” heroes; at least for me she was. Elsa worked as a folk researcher at the University of Puerto Rico, alongside her brother Pedro Escabí, and helped him publish the extensive study “Decima; vista parcial del folklore de Puerto Rico”, a book which was referenced by many other authors, including sociologist Angel Quintero Rivera in his book “Salsa, Sabor y Control”. After retiring from the UPR and after Pedro’s passing about a decade ago, Elsa took her last project to finish and publish the other extensive music research study, “Rosario, vista parcial del folklore de Puerto Rico”, which was just published by Casa Paoli. After seeing her last project completed at age 96, Elsa signed off, leaving her own legacy.

I recognize this is not a complete list, so pardon the omissions.

May all their souls rest in peace!

The post The Departed of Latin Music 2020 appeared first on Latino Music Cafe.


Jose Feliciano: 50 Years of “Feliz Navidad”

The Christmas classic “Feliz Navidad” turned 50 in 2020, and Jose Feliciano is celebrating by inviting a few guest artists to sing along in a new version of it. Perlude to “Feliz Navidad“ Jose Feliciano was doing very well at the time “Feliz Navidad“. He had already recorded a dozen albums, starting with his first […] The post Jose Feliciano: 50 Years of “Feliz Navidad” appeared first on Latino Music...

Jose Feliciano in Feliz Navidad (1970)

The Christmas classic “Feliz Navidad” turned 50 in 2020, and Jose Feliciano is celebrating by inviting a few guest artists to sing along in a new version of it.

Perlude to “Feliz Navidad

I don't know how 'Feliz Navidad' became such a favorite. I think, because it has that Puerto Rican feeling.

Jose Feliciano Singer-songwriter

Jose Feliciano was doing very well at the time “Feliz Navidad“. He had already recorded a dozen albums, starting with his first one in 1965. Jose was still riding on the popularity of his 1968 mega-hit “Light My Fire“, had won two Grammy awards for that album, and then came his memorable rendition of the national anthem before the 5th game of that year’s World Series.

By 1970, Feliciano was thinking of making a Christmas album.

Feliz Navidad

Along with his producer Rick Jarred, Feliciano began selecting classic Christmas songs for the album. Rick suggested that they needed to include an original song, and moments later, Jose began singing “Feliz Navidad“.

Here’s a video of Jose Feliciano explaining more about the song.

New 2020 Version

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the song, Jose Feliciano invited a few guest artists to sing along a new version of his song. Among them are members of the group CNCO, La India, and Lin-Manuel Miranda. This version is exclusive of Amazon Music, but I did find a version on YouTube.

Happy Holidays!

The post Jose Feliciano: 50 Years of “Feliz Navidad” appeared first on Latino Music Cafe.


New Events Calendar for Virtual Concerts

I’m glad to announce that Latino Music Café debuts a new Events Calendar to list the virtual concerts offered for Latin music fans. The idea is to list virtual events that will mostly be virtual concerts but occasionally might include other virtual events. As we get into the Christmas season, and with virtual concerts starting […] The post New Events Calendar for Virtual Concerts appeared first on Latino Music...

Events Calendar at Latino Music Cafe

I’m glad to announce that Latino Music Café debuts a new Events Calendar to list the virtual concerts offered for Latin music fans.

The idea is to list virtual events that will mostly be virtual concerts but occasionally might include other virtual events. As we get into the Christmas season, and with virtual concerts starting to get a footing with producers, we are starting to see a greater number of virtual concerts coming in the next few weeks.

Benefits of the Events Calendar

Just this week we have virtual concerts by Ismael Miranda & Chucho Avellanet, Johnny Ventura, Miguel Zenon & Luis Perdomo, and Gilberto Santa Rosa. There are announced concerts for December by Danny Rivera and Tito Nieves, with others in the making by Luis Perico Ortiz and Jose Feliciano.

The Events Calendar works well for virtual events since Latino Music Café readers are in a variety of locations around the world. For that same reason, a “normal” events calendar promoting local events was not something where I wanted to spend my time and energy.

I hope you’ll find the Events Calendar useful as a list of virtual concerts that may be of your interest.

Contribute to Make it Better

If you know of a virtual concert that I have not listed, please send me the information to my email (hector@latinomusiccafe.com) and I will try to include it in the calendar. The more contributions the better for all of us.

Your contributions will be appreciated by all of us in the Latino Music Café community.

The post New Events Calendar for Virtual Concerts appeared first on Latino Music Cafe.


Tito Rodriguez “Live at the Palladium” 60th Anniversary

Tito Rodriguez’s “Live at the Palladium” gives you a front seat of a great performance recorded 60 years ago at this palace of Latin music. In 1960 Tito Rodriguez and his orchestra were still at the top of their game. They decided to record this album in October of that year. This occurred around the […] The post Tito Rodriguez “Live at the Palladium” 60th Anniversary appeared first on Latino Music...

Tito Rodriguez Live at the Palladium

Tito Rodriguez’s “Live at the Palladium” gives you a front seat of a great performance recorded 60 years ago at this palace of Latin music.

In 1960 Tito Rodriguez and his orchestra were still at the top of their game. They decided to record this album in October of that year. This occurred around the time when then-Senator John F. Kennedy was in a tough race for the presidency against incumbent Vice President Richard Nixon. Tito’s career exploded in the ’50s and he wanted to start the ’60s with a bang!

About “Live at the Palladium

Humberto Ramirez behind Tito Rodriguez Live at the Palladium
Humberto Rodriguez holds an original copy of the LP “Tito Rodriguez Live at the Palladium” (1960).

Live at the Palladium” features 10 songs; five of what we would call today Salsa (but the term hadn’t been coined back then) and five Latin Jazz. The latter featured Tito’s great orchestra, which included a young Eddie Palmieri on the piano.

Many of today’s Salsa fans will recognize two emblematic Rodriguez songs; “Mama Güela” and “El Sabio“. Latin Jazz fans can’t miss the popular “Satin and Lace“.

Proof of the album’s popularity was that Tito recorded a similar one, “Tito Rodriguez Returns to the Palladium Live” the following year (1961).

Humberto Ramirez Facebook Program

Humberto Ramirez dedicated one of his weekly Facebook Live music programs to this album. He did a fantastic job, as he normally does. But this program in particular got my attention to the significance of this recording.

I’m sharing the link to the recording of the Humberto Ramirez Facebook Live program below. Hopefully, you’ll have better luck than I did was I was only able to listen to Humberto when he talked, but not when he played the music. Thankfully I was able to pick up some great information about this recording on the comments I could listen to.

Enjoy!

Humberto Ramirez Facebook Live (recorded) program on Tito Rodriguez “Live at the Palladium”.

The post Tito Rodriguez “Live at the Palladium” 60th Anniversary appeared first on Latino Music Cafe.


Latin Grammy 2020: Best Latin Jazz Album

The list of nominees for the Latin Grammy 2020 Best Latin Jazz Album is really good this year. There are three well-known artists and two not-so-popular, but they are just as good nonetheless. Best Latin Jazz Album 2020 To keep this short and sweet, I’ll list the nominees along with my comments below… Sonero: The […] The post Latin Grammy 2020: Best Latin Jazz Album appeared first on Latino Music...

Latin Grammy 2020 Sonero and Antidote covers

The list of nominees for the Latin Grammy 2020 Best Latin Jazz Album is really good this year. There are three well-known artists and two not-so-popular, but they are just as good nonetheless.

Best Latin Jazz Album 2020

To keep this short and sweet, I’ll list the nominees along with my comments below…

Sonero: The Music of Ismael Rivera (Miguel Zenon)

The busy Puerto Rican saxophonist and bandleader paid a respectful homage to his Salsa idol. Miguel used his creative mind to convert some of the iconic songs from the late Salsa star into jazz melodies that enable his talented band to express themselves.

You can read my full review of Miguel Zenon’s “Sonero at this link.

Tradiciones (Afro-Peruvian Jazz Orchestra)

I have to be honest; I had never heard of the Afro-Peruvian Jazz Orchestra (APJO) before. However, I do love Afro-Peruvian music and I do love Jazz. So the combination sounded interesting.

"Tradiciones" Afro Peruvian Jazz Orchesta cover
“Tradiciones” is a fantastic recording by APJO leaders Anibal Seminario and Lorenzo Ferrero.

Tradiciones” is a beautiful album that combines these two streams of music in an elegant package. The orchestra is fantastic and doesn’t hurt to have Peruvian music legend Eva Ayllon as a guest in one of the songs.

This 20 piece jazz orchestra was created by Anibal Seminario and Lorenzo Ferrero, both Peruvian composers and woodwind players.

Perhaps the only drawback of “Traditions” is that the album is relatively short with just 6 songs and 40-minute duration. Yet, this does not take away from making it a short enjoyable listening journey.

Antidote (Chick Corea & The Spanish Heart Band)

Chick Corea, the legendary jazz musician is again drawing from the Latin vein in this well-crafted jazz album. Corea brings in Latin music legend Ruben Blades to collaborate in two songs of “Antidote“. The Spaniard-flavored music is certainly worthy of this nomination.

Carib (David Sánchez)

The Puerto Rican jazz marvel is back in the saddle with this fantastic jazz album. Sanchez’s last recording as a leader was back in 2008, besides the two albums with Ninety Miles in 2011 and 2012.

In “Carib” David Sanchez delivers 11 songs of contemporary jazz that showcase his skill at the saxophone.

I missed David’s music and am glad to see him come back with gusto.

Puertos: Music from International Waters (Emilio Solla’s Tango Jazz Orchestra)

"Puertos" is a fantastic Latin Grammy 2020 nominee
“Puertos” is a fantastic recording by the Tango Jazz Orchestra with beautiful orchestrations based on South-American rhythms.

Emilio Solla delivers a unique album with a great mixture of Jazz with Tango and other rhythms, in an exquisite way. I was really impressed by the orchestration, arrangements, and musicality in this album. It features saxophones, piano, and the beautiful intervention of the bandoneon.

The eight songs are captivating and make for an entertaining and relaxing listen.

My Favorite Latin Jazz Album

Miguel Zenon, Chick Corea, and David Sanchez all have great albums, all worthy of their nominations and your attention. Yet, for me, I was really impressed by the music of the underdogs in this category, which means, they aren’t likely to win the Latin Grammy.

Nonetheless, I want to highlight the work of Anibal Seminario and Lorenzo Ferrero and their Afro Peruvian Jazz Orchestra, as well as that of Emilio Solla and his Tango Jazz Orchestra. I love these underdogs and hope they eventually find the popularity of the other nominees in this category.

The post Latin Grammy 2020: Best Latin Jazz Album appeared first on Latino Music Cafe.


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