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  • Hector Aviles
  • October 10, 2014 03:39:07 AM
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Latin music blog with articles, CD reviews, and interviews.

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Which is Your Favorite Duo of El Gran Combo?

This week El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico celebrated its 58th anniversary, and I couldn’t pass the chance to find out which is your favorite duo of singers. As we’ve seen through the blog series of the History of El Gran Combo, there have been several duos. These are: Pellín Rodriguez and Andy Montañez: the […] The post Which is Your Favorite Duo of El Gran Combo? appeared first on Latino Music...

El Gran Combo Singer Duos

This week El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico celebrated its 58th anniversary, and I couldn’t pass the chance to find out which is your favorite duo of singers.

As we’ve seen through the blog series of the History of El Gran Combo, there have been several duos. These are:

Pellín Rodriguez and Andy Montañez: the duo that started it all and gave a name to El Gran Combo. Pellín was very charismatic and Andy followed the funny antics and had great harmony with his singing partner of 11 years.

Andy Montañez and Charlie Aponte: like Pellín, Charlie’s higher pitch voice made a good combination with Andy’s. They were together for only 4 years.

Charlie Aponte and Jerry Rivas: The longest lasting duo on the list by far, Jerry’s deep voice made great harmony with Charlie for 37 years.

Jerry Rivas and Anthony García: The current duo is working on their 2nd recording together.

Please select your favorite duo below:

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.

The post Which is Your Favorite Duo of El Gran Combo? appeared first on Latino Music Cafe.


Two Salsa Songs for Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers! Here are two Salsa songs that celebrate this great day, both written by the artists who perform them. Ismael Miranda, “Madre“ Ismael Miranda wrote this song for his 1975 album “Este es Ismael Miranda“. It’s a heart-felt song performed in top of a smooth son-montuno. I don’t have the […] The post Two Salsa Songs for Mother’s Day appeared first on Latino Music...

Mother's Day songs Luis "Perico" Ortiz and Ismael Miranda

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers! Here are two Salsa songs that celebrate this great day, both written by the artists who perform them.

Ismael Miranda, “Madre

Ismael Miranda wrote this song for his 1975 album “Este es Ismael Miranda“. It’s a heart-felt song performed in top of a smooth son-montuno. I don’t have the information of who arranged the song, but seems to be the work of Jorge Millet, the main arranger of the album.

Luis “Perico” Ortiz, “Dia de las Madres

The great trumpeter, arranger, composer, bandleader, and producer Luis “Perico” Ortiz wrote and arranged this song for all mothers and included it in his 1983 album “Sabor Tropical“. This video clip was of a live performance for the TV in Panama, and extends the song through the funny sketch they play out through the middle of the song. The video quality is not very good, but the audio is ok and you can still appreciate musicianship of Perico’s band.

The post Two Salsa Songs for Mother’s Day appeared first on Latino Music Cafe.


Eddie Montalvo: “Señor Tambó” Review

Eddie Montalvo‘s 3rd solo album, “Señor Tambó“, has a title that he’s earned through his long career, and is worthy of his 2nd Grammy nomination. “Señor Tambó” is a hard Salsa album, with the swing of the 70’s-80’s that caters to the Salsa dancer. The excellent musicians and singers in this recording make it a […] The post Eddie Montalvo: “Señor Tambó” Review appeared first on Latino Music...

Eddie Montalvo Señor Tambó cover

Eddie Montalvo‘s 3rd solo album, “Señor Tambó“, has a title that he’s earned through his long career, and is worthy of his 2nd Grammy nomination.

Señor Tambó” is a hard Salsa album, with the swing of the 70’s-80’s that caters to the Salsa dancer. The excellent musicians and singers in this recording make it a must-listen for the “salseros de la mata”.

About “Señor Tambó

Señor Tambó” follows on the foot steps of Eddie’s previous recording as bandleader, “Desde Nueva York a Puerto Rico” (2012). That album earned him a 2013 Grammy nomination with a concept of bringing a to the studio some of the best talent in New York and in Puerto Rico.

Eddie Montalvo Señor Tambó cover art
Eddie Montalvo’s 3rd album as leader, “Señor Tambó” should earn him another Grammy nomination.

With that same concept for “Señor Tambó“, Eddie Montalvo brings Pedro Perez on bass, Pedro Bermudez on piano, Ray Colon on bongo, Sergio “Chino” Ramos on timbal, the amazing trio of Jan Duclerc, David “Piro” Rodriguez, and Julito Alvarado on trumpets, Eliut Cintron, Jorge Diaz, and Fania All Stars alumni Reynaldo Jorge on trombones, Sammy Velez on the baritone sax, and Jeremy Montalvo on maracas.

The chorus is first class, with specialists Hector “Pichie” Perez, Henry Santiago, and Darvel Garcia.

Like in the previous album, “Señor Tambó” uses invited singers for each song. These include Luisito Carrion, Hector “Pichie” Perez (ex-La Poncena), Marcial Isturiz, Victor Garcia (pa’s que bailes comoquiera), Hector “Tempo” Alomar (ex-Conjunto Libre, Apollo Sound), Kayvan Vega, Angel Rios, Anthony Almonte (main singer in Little Johnny’s new album), Joseph Gonzalez, and Gaitanes (brothers Ricardo and Alberto Gaitan).

With this lineup, let’s talk about the results!

Hard, Thick, and Spiced Salsa

This album is all about good “golden-age” Salsa from top to bottom. The fact that the lineup includes a baritone sax, trombones and heavy trumpets means the recipe is for a thick and spiced stew.

The song titles also give it away. “El Guapo“, “El Negro Encarnacion“, “Cemento y Arena“, “El Chango de Maria“, and of course, “Señor Tambó“, leaves no doubt this isn’t a romantic album.

Eddie Montalvo has played with the best, and the elegance can’t be missing just because the swing is hard.

The opening song “Tributo a Ruben Blades” is a well-deserved homage to his friend, Salsa icon, and partner with Willie Colon, Fania All Stars, and Seis del Solar. Interestingly, the song is performed by the Gaitanes (which is a Panamanian duo of brothers), and one of them happens to either imitate or his voice strongly resembles that of the Salsa icon.

He also include “De Los Mejores” another homage to his conga colleagues (both past and present).

But with all the goodness, and I realize I’m just scratching the surface here, my favorite is the title song, “Señor Tambó“. Sung with gusto by the great Luisito Carrion, the song swings and Luisito pushes it to the max.

Great Salsa Album

I don’t know how you’ll get through this album without getting up to dance, even if by yourself. This is Salsa well made, tightly performed, and with top-notch sound.

You’ll enjoy listening to “Señor Tambó“.

The post Eddie Montalvo: “Señor Tambó” Review appeared first on Latino Music Cafe.


Güiro, Güira, y Güícharo: Cuban Guiro

In the mid 1500s four musicians performed at a tavern in the town of Havana, Cuba and used a Cuban güiro among it’s instruments. This was perhaps the first record of this instrument being used post colonization of the Cuba. In my introduction to this blog series, I explained that the güiro comes from the […] The post Güiro, Güira, y Güícharo: Cuban Guiro appeared first on Latino Music...

güiro and pua used in Cuban and Salsa music

In the mid 1500s four musicians performed at a tavern in the town of Havana, Cuba and used a Cuban güiro among it’s instruments. This was perhaps the first record of this instrument being used post colonization of the Cuba.

In my introduction to this blog series, I explained that the güiro comes from the Taino Indians. Therefore, we know its origins are quite old. However, it’s use in the music after the colonization of the island precedes even the development of the native Cuban music we have enjoyed since the late 19th century.

Early Use of the Guiro

The four musicians named in this early document, consisted of two Spaniards, one Portuguese, and one free black Dominican woman. In the 16th century, a free-black in the Caribbean was a rare thing, as the shipment of slaves from Africa to the Caribbean was booming; a free black woman, even more unlikely. Clearly this woman was special, as she could play the Spanish guitar, the “castañuelas”, and an instrument not familiar to the Europeans; the güiro.

Guiro and pua
Modern guiro and pua are moslty made of resin instead of the fruit of the higuera tree as the originals.

Please note that back then they played Spaniard music, as native Cuban music had not been developed yet.

Perhaps the most interesting part is that these four musicians playing in the town of Havana (it was still not denominated a “city”) incorporated the native güiro to the contradanza music in vouge back then, which arrived with the European settlers. Thus began the evolution from Contradanza, to Danza, eventually to the Danzón.

But that’s material for another blog. So back to the güiro.

The Cuban Güiro

The Cuban güiro, also called “güiro macho” is normally bigger and wider than its Puerto Rican counterpart, the güícharo. The groves on the Cuban version are thicker and deeper, resulting in a deeper (lower) sound.

Like the entire family of these instruments, it’s sound is made by scraping the grooves, in this case with a stick, formally called a “púa”.

Along with the maracas and clave, the güiro is one of the essential minor percussion instruments in Cuban music.

Playing Technique

Like the maracas, the güiro seems a simple instrument to play; and in certain ways, it is. But there is a bit more to it than what you see at first sight.

For that, I’m adding here a video from one of my favorite percussion masters, the maestro Bobby Sanabria. Bobby is a living encyclopedia, and will not only show how it is played, but goes into some of its history.

Like he says, this is an instrument that if played well, it will tie together the rhythm of the music in very elegantly.

The post Güiro, Güira, y Güícharo: Cuban Guiro appeared first on Latino Music Cafe.


Three Latin Songs of Coronavirus

Musicians, like the rest of us, are home with a lot of time on their hands, so they’ve written songs of coronavirus to keep us entertained. Among the various songs that Latin artists have recently published to entertain (us and themselves) as well as send us a message, I picked three that I hope you […] The post Three Latin Songs of Coronavirus appeared first on Latino Music...

Jose Nogueras, Juan Luis Guerra and Ruben Blades in songs of coronavirus

Musicians, like the rest of us, are home with a lot of time on their hands, so they’ve written songs of coronavirus to keep us entertained.

Among the various songs that Latin artists have recently published to entertain (us and themselves) as well as send us a message, I picked three that I hope you check out below if you haven’t heard them already.

Variety of Songs of Coronavirus

The messages in these Latin coronavirus songs come in different types as should be expected. Artists make them in their respective genres (to meet the expectations of their fans) or different ones, perhaps more attuned to the song and occasion.

I’ve included three of them here for you. Jose Nogueras, Ruben Blades and Juan Luis Guerra are three of the best singer-songwriters in Latin music. There are many more and surely more are to come. For example, Bad Bunny just published a song, but I don’t like Bad Bunny and much less his music, as popular as it may be. I’m sticking with the good stuff.

Jose Nogueras “Quedate en tu Casa

Jose Nogueras recorded “Quedate en tu Casa” (Stay at Home) at his home. From the self-made video, he seems to play all the instruments, although it doesn’t show who plays the percussion. The music and lyrics of this song are typical Jose Nogueras. The Puerto Rican Christmas icon uses the rhythm of Plena, which he frequently uses in his albums. And the lyrics are both funny and with a serious message, which is vividly displayed in the song title.

Ruben Blades: “Panama”

At least I believe this is the title of the song. I take it from the video as it’s not evident (or I missed it) in his webpage.

Again, typical to the Ruben Blades style, he brings a strong message of social distancing in this coronavirus pandemic, always splashed with a bit of humor.

Besides the message and the Panamanian rhythm with accordion and all, I liked that Ruben included video of Panamanians singing the chorus “Panama” in the bottom of the screen. Per his website, he received 1,100 videos for this, but could only accommodate to use 166 of them.

Juan Luis Guerra: “Gracias”

Juan Luis Guerra brings us not a bachata, but a mellow ballad in his spiritually-themed “Gracias“. This song starts with a quote from the bible, and the lyrics are inspired by this quote. Again, a beautiful and spiritual song to feed our souls with peace in these anxious times.

The post Three Latin Songs of Coronavirus appeared first on Latino Music Cafe.


Andrea Brachfeld “Brazilian Whispers” Review

“Brazilian Whispers” is the result of fan request for Andrea Brachfeld to play more Brazilian music. Her thorough research resulted in an album true to the music while conserving her signature style. Original Brazilian Music Standards Once Andrea decided to release an album of Brazilian jazz, she did a thorough research of the country’s music. […] The post Andrea Brachfeld “Brazilian Whispers” Review appeared first on Latino Music...

Andrea Brachfeld on "Brazilian Whispers" cover photo

“Brazilian Whispers” is the result of fan request for Andrea Brachfeld to play more Brazilian music. Her thorough research resulted in an album true to the music while conserving her signature style.

Original Brazilian Music Standards

Once Andrea decided to release an album of Brazilian jazz, she did a thorough research of the country’s music. In particular, she focused on the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim.

I always liked Brazilian music, but I knew that I would need to really put in the time to study it in an authentic way if I wanted to really play it right.

Andrea Brachfeld Flutist/Bandleader

“Brazilian Whispers” contains a mix of popular as well as lesser known standards penned by the “father of Bossa Nova”. Andrea says “…basically I listened to a lot of Jobim songs and the ones that I really liked are the ones that we recorded.”

Andrea Brachfeld and her Insight Quartet were able to keep the original essence of Jobim’s songs, while giving them their own spin. Because of the research they did, the songs came out something like “original standards”.

They also added three original songs in the Bossa Nova / Samba genres, which blended perfectly with the rest of the album.

Flawless Performance by Insight Quartet

The core of Andrea Brachfeld’s Insight Quartet knows Brazilian music well and performed it flawlessly. Bill O’Connell (piano/fender rhodes), Harview S (bass), and Jason Tiemann (drums) have been playing with Andrea for 3 years and have formed a tight performing unit.

Andrea Brachfeld and "Brazilian Whispers" Insight
Jason Tiemann, Harvie S., Andrea Brachfeld, and Bill O’Connell are the Insight quartet.

The album also has extensive participation of Lincoln Goines (electric bass) and Chembo Corniel (congas/percussion). Both have worked previously with Andrea and fit her style like a glove.

The other addition to the album is Brazilian percussionist T. Portinho (drums), who is one of the most recognized names in contemporary Brazilian music.

These talented musicians performed like a well-oiled machine to produce music that transports you south to the land of the caipirinha.

Refreshing “Brazilian Whispers”

“Brazilian Whispers” is a refreshing album of Brazilian music. You get to listen to Jobim’s songs in a brand new way, with the ensemble led by Andrea, a veteran Latin Jazz flutist. This 9th album of Andrea as a bandleader is another quality production. Besides the great musicianship, the sound, mixing that complete album concept is top notch.

Not surprisingly, “Brazilian Whispers” is launched under the Origin Records label, and was co-produced by Andrea with Bill O’Connell.

I think you’ll enjoy the relaxing 11 songs included in this album. It won’t hurt if you have some cachaça to go with the music.

The post Andrea Brachfeld “Brazilian Whispers” Review appeared first on Latino Music Cafe.


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