The Spanish Harlem Orchestra Biography

Formed in 2000 in New York City’s East Side section known as El Barrio, this group brought to wide attention the rich musical heritage of Latin culture that included salsa, Latin soul and boogaloo. Led by pianist Oscar Hernández, the Spanish Harlem Orchestra became highly respected not only for the high quality of their music making but also for the fact that they not only maintained but also consistently refreshed the music that had earlier been the repertoire of musicians such as Machito, Tito Puente and Tito Rodriguez. Hernandez is also an accomplished arranger who had worked with many of the progenitors of the music that would be at the core of the Spanish Harlem Orchestra’s work. The group’s recording debut, Un Gran Dia En El Barrio, was nominated for a 2003 Grammy as Best Salsa Album and won a Billboard Award for Salsa Album Of The Year - Best New Group. Their second album won a 2004 Grammy for Best Salsa/Merengue Album.

Among the singers appearing with the Spanish Harlem Orchestra have been Marco Bermudez, Rubén Blades, Ray De La Paz, Herman Oliveira, Willie Torres and Jimmy Sabater, while instrumentalists who have worked with the group include percussionist Bobby Allende, trombonist Jimmy Bosch, bass player Rubén Rodriguez and trumpeter Ray Vega. The band has appeared across the USA and Europe. In 2003 they performed at the Montreal Jazz Festival and the Newport Jazz Festival.


Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.


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