Daily News Article Feb 11, 2011
Spanish Harlem Orchestra In NY Daily News
Con la receta musical de la salsa neuyorquina, Spanish Harlem Orchestra presenta su cuarto disco
Hi all, Check out the Tavis Talks piece on Spanish Harlem Orchestra. It will be playing — starting today!
Attached is an MP3 of the interview as well!
On September 28th, GRAMMY®-winning Group Spanish Harlem Orchestra Releases Their Fourth Album and Concord Picante Debut, Viva la Tradición
Concord Picante is proud to announce the release of Viva la Tradicón, the newest album from the Grammy winning 13-piece collective Spanish Harlem Orchestra. The 12-track collection marks the orchestra’s debut album for Concord Picante and overall fourth outing. Viva la Tradicón takes up where its three predecessors left off – stirring the pot of mid-20th century influences and keeping the salsa simmering for current and future generations. The album is available everywhere September 28, 2010.
Now in its tenth year, the Spanish Harlem Orchestra is one of the most formidable and authentic Salsa/Latin Jazz orchestra’s of today. Yet for all of its appeal with contemporary audiences, the group’s success is actually rooted in the past. A lively and energetic affair, Viva la Tradición draws on inspiration from the music’s history and enduring traditions. The collection is comprised largely of original compositions and arrangements of classic salsa tunes by bandleader/founder Oscar Hernandez. Hernández is one of the most respected musicians in Latin & Latin Jazz music.His track record & discography are extensive. On the new CD he enlists the support of veteran composer and arranger Gil Lopez on three of Lopez’s compositions (“Son De Corazon,” “Nuestra Cancion,” and “Regalo De Dios).
Viva la Tradicón opens with the exciting “La Salsa Dura,” a song bursting with punching horn lines and spirited vocals that “really captures what we’re about,” says Hernandez. Amid the series of salsa tracks, one of Gil Lopez’s arrangements, “Nuestra Cancion,” acts as an unlikely addition to the high-powered energy of the set. The collective included this ballad as a point to their listeners, in order to communicate, “you need to listen to this, because this how it was done back in those days. It was just beautiful music.”
The orchestra finishes with two songs: Hernandez’s “Rumba Urbana,” a percussive and complex tune that shimmers with tight trumpet lines and syncopated rhythms around improvised solos, and “El Negro Tiene Tumbao,” a tune that draws on the bold and artistic delivery by featured guest vocalist Isaac Delgado.
Front to back, Viva la Tradición is very much a nod to the countless artists – well known and obscure – who helped usher salsa music into the cultural mainstream several decades ago. “Preserving that legacy and introducing it to new audiences in a new century,” says Hernandez, “is more important than being the musical flavor of the month.”
12 10 07
New York’s Spanish Harlem Orchestra scored its third consecutive Grammy nomination on Thursday for its acclaimed album “United We Swing.” “We are so excited,” said bandleader Oscar Hernández. “It’s our third CD and our third nomination, so it couldn’t have worked out better.” The Best Tropical Album nod for the 13-member ensemble follows a 2005 Grammy win for “Across 110th St.,” recorded with salsa legend Rubén Blades as guest vocalist, and a 2003 nomination for their debut album “Un Gran Día en El Barrio.” “This recognition is important because, at the end of the day, you’re not making much money with these records, especially these days,” Hernández says. He adds that he was confident the album released in May was good, but wasn’t sure about the reception it would get. “In a way, I was worried,” he says. “I knew in my heart the record is second to none in terms of quality, if not the best, but you never know.” A pianist, arranger and producer, Hernández started SHO in 2000. Since then, the group has become a sort of world ambassador of New York City salsa. “We get more recognition from world audiences than among Latinos,” he says.
Despite their success, Hernández said salsa is in a “very bad” state in New York. “It’s like trying to resurrect the dead,” he said. “There is a new generation now, doing different stuff. But I think that, worldwide, there is a growing audience.”
At the 50th Grammy Awards, which will take place Feb 10 in Los Angeles, SHO will compete with such heavyweights as merengue superstar Juan Luis Guerra — who last month won five Latin Grammys — and Puerto Rico’s iconic salsa band, El Gran Combo. Also nominated for Best Tropical Album is a Havana-based band, Cubanísimo, and Isaac Delgado, who fled Cuba last year.But Hernández is far from intimidated. “The last time it was even worse! We contended with salseros Marc Anthony, Victor Manuelle and Gilberto Santa Rosa. Do you think I expected we would win? But we did.”
SOURCE: NY Daily News
12 08 04
Spanish Harlem Orchestra nominated for a Grammy Award once again in 2004! Two years in a row Spanish Harlem Orchestra has managed to gain the national attention and have been nominated for best Salsa CD of the year along with Marc Anthony, Gilberto Santa Rosa and Victor Manuel.
09 16 04
Editor’s Pick: Across 110th Street, the second recording for the band, and featuring Rubén Blades, is so strong, so vital, so elegant and so damn swinging, it hurts reminding you how this music at one time had the world. This combination of New York, Puerto Rico and Cuba was explosive, and if Across 110th is to be believed, still can be. The SHO has been touring; you can hear it in the coros, and the percussion, and the horns, all playing together. And you can feel it in the length of the tunes, the quiet space between activity that can only come from musicians confident in the music’s ability to keep a dancer or a listener’s interest. Rubén Blades blasts through the music: this is easily his best singing in years; on “Bailadores,” the band starts bubbling up around him, and he bulls his way forward, pushing the horns back. And on “Un Grand Dia En El Barrio,” written by one of the orchestra’s singers, Ray De La Paz, Blades sounds as if he wrote it himself, a story song about the barrio. And it’s a dictionary of salsa ideas; he quotes Celia and others. And Blades contributes a tune “Tue Te Lo Pierdes” an extra piece that’s a blossoming hit with just a bit of funny vulgarity. But the band’s other singers, Ray De La Paz, Marco Bermudez and Willie Torres sing well, roaring through the tunes, including pieces by Tito Puente, C. Curet Alonso, and others.
The band, slinky and powerful in turns swing hard. In part this comes from Oscar Hernández’s (the band’s leader) piano figures; listen to the deep groove of the opening montuno on “Escucha El Ritmo,” and marvel at the tempo, set somewhere between relaxed and casual. The horns, anchored by a baritone saxophone, help drive the band and conjure up memories of the great orchestras, from Machito to Willie Rosario. A lot can be said about the decay and dissolution of the current salsa scene. Across 110th Street is proof that a great salsa album can still be made; easily the equal of other great recordings in the genre. The recording makes a case for being the salsa album of the year, and it shows that the basic template of literate, intelligent, urban salsa can still work, that it’s not outdated. Urgency and swing need no explanation: listen to “Te Cantare,” with its carefully interlocking parts, all taken at a gallop, with the singer slapping the beat, to hear the marvel that is this recording and the music and culture it represents. Highly Recommended. (Peter Watrous, 2004-06-07) Descarga.com
09 18 04
Fats greasy licks in the authentic style from the current leaders in New York salsa stakes. The great singer and songwriter Ruben Blades guests on four tracks, his rumpled bedsit of a voice lending distinction to otherwise fairly generic grooves. Recorded live in the studio, the sound is commendably in your face. When everything comes together- the brass section parping grandiloquently against the rippling piano triplets; the vocal chorus cooing like castrati as the percussionists’ clave beat intensifies and the bridge comes into view, it will blow your head off.
09 16 04
“Un Gran Dia En El Barrio” (One great day in the neighborhood) The album is Harlem’s answer to Cuba’s Buena Vista Social Club. It is a musical portait of a tiny neighborhood that changed the sound of the entiore world. Spanish Harlem has given birth to everything from 60′s-era Boogaloo to mind-bending salsa and many grooves in between. This record enlists some of today’s most respected, important and often overlooked players in modern salsa to pay tribute to their ancestors and history. This album is a long-overdue missing link to the music and history of Spanish Harlem. Whether you are a sesoned salsero or a first time mambonik…..the Spanish Harlem Orchestra will prove that today is always “Un Gran Dia En El Barrio”.
09 16 04
Salsa is experiencing a new resurgence and leading the charge in a newly formed Spanish Harlem Orchestra winner of the 2003 Billboard Latin Music Awards for new Artist. SHO is a new concept, a brand new orchestra featuring a forceful, finely tuned ensemble of alumni from the great salsa bands of Tito Puente, Ray Barretto, Willie Colon and Ruben Blades. These seasoned sidemen accompnaied by four singers are bringing the New York Harlem salsa of the 50′s and 70′s to life for a new generation. This is a collaborative effort but everything is brought to fruition under the direction of pianist and arranger Oscar Hernandez SHO. Tauntingly unpredictable these crack musicians rev up complex, precision polyrhythms and fire up five-part horn harmonies. Hernandez who offers intricate though somewhat celebral piano solos, often allows local musicians on stage for a fiery finales of “Muneca”, the Eddie Palmieri-Ismael Quintana hit. But Hernandez told Spy that they would also perform classics such as COlon’s “La Banda” and Barretto’s “Vale Mas Un Guaguanco”. So all you Salsa die-hards who know the rhythm can get on down and dance the day away.
09 16 04
Editor’s Pick: Un Gran Dia En El Barrio. Starting off with a relentless, slammin’ version of Tito Rodriguez’ killer “Mama Guela,” this beautiful project is a celebration of the Latin music and culture that developed in New York’s Spanish Harlem, and the choices of material included here are connected to that small geographic area that gave birth to so much talent. In doing so, these all-star players, and especially El Maestro, Oscar Hernández, pay loving tribute to salsa’s history and ancestry. What can I say here, with vocalists like Frankie Vasquez, Hermán Olivera, Ray De La Paz and Jimmy Sabater, what can you expect? Perfection? Well damn close! The new interpretation of the Willie Colón/Marty Sheller tune “La Banda,” made famous originally by Héctor Lavoe in the ‘70s, should be gilded and framed. And “Pa’ Gozar,” Mr. Hernández own original composition is simply on fire. Don’t touch that dial. Get up and dance. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blub bleeb. Stop reading this and get your copy now. Highly recommended. -Descarga.com
08 01 04
Spanish Harlem Orchestra, Across 110th Street [Rykodisc]
Fat greasy licks in the authentic style from the current leaders in the New York salsa stakes. The great singer Ruben Blades guests on four tracks, his rumpled bedsit of a voice lending distinction to otherwise fairly generic grooves. Recorded live in the studio, the sound is commendably in-your-face. When everything comes together – the brass section parping grandiloquently against the rippling piano triplets; the vocal chorus cooing like castrati as the percussionists’ clave beat intensifies and the bridge comes into view – it will blow your head off. -Phil Johnson
07 04 04
Spanish Harlem Orchestra, Across 110th Street [Rykodisc]
While Cuba and Puerto Rico may be more obvious choices, you can in fact locate the hottest salsa in New York. Take the subway north out of Manhattan and when you cross 110th Street you’re in the vibrant Latin barrio that is spiritual home of the Spanish Harlem Orchestra. Directed by Oscar Hernandez and featuring the cream of New York’s Latino musicians, their blistering 2002 debut recieved a Grammy nomination as salsa album of the year.
This follow-up led by Jimmy Bosch’s trombone, blow like a hurricane. The percussion is thrillingly inventive and the sound is fat and round, bursting with an engergy that comes from being recorded live. At times the rhythms are a little too relentless and a change of pace here and there would be welcome. But the material is potent, mixing classics such as Como Lo Canto Yo with new compositions, and topped with the sinuous voice of Ruben Blades. New York’s Latin scene has long lived in the shadows of the legendary Fania All-Stars. On this form, the SHO are worthy heirs. -Nigel Williamson
07 04 04
Spanish Harlem Orchestra, Across 110th Street [Rykodisc]
Topping 2002′s ‘Un Gran Dia En El Barrio’ was never going to be easy for the SHO, but shows at the Royal Festival Hall and Barbican over the last year proved that the salsa-loving masses wanted more of what they were hearing. Subsequently, Oscar Hernandez and his 12-strong troop from Manhattan’s Puerto Rican end stay uptown and roll off 13 future Nu Yorican hotpot classics.
The legendary Ruben Blades joins Oscar and co, while new joints ‘Cuando Te Vea’, ‘Maestro De Rumbero’ and ‘Tu Te Pierdes’ gyrate and cavort alongside standards ‘Bailadores’ and ‘Como Lo Canto Yo’. Objectives achieved. Job done.
06 28 04
Spanish Harlem Orchestra feat. Ruben Blades, Across 110th Street.
The salsa/Latin album of 2004 is here and is only halfway through the year! SHO deliver one hell of a follow-up to their debut, the Grammy-nominated ‘Un Gran Dia En El Barrio’. ‘Across 110th Street’ is a killer album that makes you wonder why other salsa artists even bother? Thirteen tracks and I’m struggling to find a filler! Even the bolero is class! I’m also struggling to pick a favourite. For salsa dura headz, choose any one from ‘Un Gran Dia En El Barrio’, ‘Cuando Te Vea’, ‘Tun Tun Suena El Tambor’ or ‘Maestro De Rumbero’.
For jazzers, go straight to the mambo instrumental ‘Perla Morena’ or the strutting cha cha cha ‘Escucha El Ritmo’. Beautiful barrio salsa that reminds you of the classics from the golden era of the 70s – Fania Allstars, Barretto, Tipica ’73, Palmieri, Larry Harlow and Willie Colon. The dots are truly joined with the addition of legendary salsa singer (political activist and actor!) Ruben Blades on four tracks – the man still has that soulful smooth tenor which graced so many Willie Colon albums in the 70s as well as his own classic solo albums of the 80s. La combination perfecta – Spanish Harlem Orchestra and Ruben Blades! I can’t recommend this album quite highly enough.
03 24 03
A revved-up revival of classic salsa The Los Angeles Times
The Spanish Harlem Orchestra brought its irresistible salsa revival show to the Conga Room on Friday, reminding us how thrilling this music can be, especially in the hands of committed New Yorkers. This is a forceful, finely tuned ensemble of alumni from the great salsa bands of Tito Puente, Ray Barretto, Willie Colon, Ruben Blades and others. Under the direction of pianist and arranger Oscar Hernandez, these seasoned sidemen have been spearheading the current resurgence of classic salsa from the 1960s and ’70s. Like their popular 2002 debut album, Friday’s show stuck mostly to hard-driving standards such as Colon’s “La Banda” and Barretto’s “Vale Mas Un Guaguanco.” To salsa die-hards who know all the words, these songs have the joyful, nostalgic appeal of Beatles tunes. Plus, they make you get up and dance, with or without a partner. This merry band of baby boomers tapped into the good-natured, communal spirit characteristic of salsa at its timeless best. It swept up even the many young fans in the crowd who were not yet born when this music was popular.
Watching these crack musicians rev up their complex, precision polyrhythms and fire up five-part horn harmonies is as thrilling as riding a horse that suddenly breaks into a gallop. Somebody may have the reins, but the sinewy power is unpredictable. Hernandez, who offered intricate though somewhat cerebral piano solos, allowed a swarm of local musicians on stage for a fiery finale of “Muneca,” the Eddie Palmieri-Ismael Quintana hit. Even Hernandez’s trio of excellent soneros (improvisational singers) ceded their microphones. The near-anarchic, party-like climax gave fans a final lesson in classic salsa: Never leave before it’s over. Credit: Times Staff Writer ; Agustin Gurza