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Un Gran Dia en el Barrio

Spanish Harlem Orchestra

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Album Review

If the Spanish Harlem Orchestra are, as the promo copy suggests, "Harlem's answer to Cuba's Buena Vista Social Club," then Un Gran Dia en el Barrio is the soundtrack to a sweaty summer party in the city. One can almost hear the music and beats reverberating off the cement as they come curling out of a streetside window. The disc documents the salsa music native to upper Manhattan's Spanish Harlem and presents the music's tightly entwined grooves — synchronized horn lines twisting over syncopated rhythms — with enough fidelity for clarity and sufficient warmth for liveliness. Pianist Oscar Hernandez serves as bandleader to the dozen or so veteran musicians who make up the effortlessly grooving band.

Biography

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...
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Un Gran Dia en el Barrio, Spanish Harlem Orchestra
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