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Víva la Tradición

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Album Review

Spanish Harlem Orchestra's fourth album, and its first in four years, puts the focus back on the group itself after previous albums with spotlights for Paul Simon and Rubén Blades, among others. Fittingly, it celebrates the rich tradition of salsa music, as heard on the second track, "Mi Herencia Latina," written by vocalist Willie Torres, who name-checks a parade of influences. (Torres knows something about salsa tradition: he's been part of the chorus for some of the best salseros going back to the early '60s, including Palmieri brothers Eddie and Charlie, Ray Barretto, Tito Puente, and Celia Cruz, among others.) As usual, Oscar Hernández produces, writes, and arranges most of the tracks, and translating his vision falls to a group of standout instrumentalists: brass players led by trombonist Jimmy Bosch and trumpeter Hector Colón, Mitch Frohman on woodwinds, and percussionists Luisito Quintero (timbales), George Delgado (congas), and Jorge Gonzalez (bongos). The material includes everything a fan would expect: plenty of strong, durable salsa numbers, plus son and mixing it up in the middle, the bright and buoyant pachanga "Como Baila Mi Mulata" (another original composition and arrangement by Hernández, led by Frohman on flute).

Biography

Formed: 2000 in New York, NY

Genre: Salsa and Tropical

Years Active: '00s, '10s

A proud throwback to the classic era of Latin jazz big bands as exemplified by Tito Puente's classic salsa orchestra, Spanish Harlem Orchestra formed in 2000 under the tutelage of producer Aaron Luis Levinson and bandleader Oscar Hernandez. Best known as Rubén Blades' piano player and musical director, Hernandez had also worked with everyone from Celia Cruz and Ray Barretto to Kirsty MacColl and Paul Simon. (Hernandez arranged and produced the score for Simon's ill-starred Latin-influenced Broadway...
Full Bio
Víva la Tradición, Spanish Harlem Orchestra
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  • $16.99
  • Genres: Salsa and Tropical, Music, Latino
  • Released: 01 January 2010

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