The Spanish Harlem Orchestra: Ray De La Paz, Frankie Vasquez, Herman Olivera (vocals); Mitch Frohman (baritone saxophone); Ray Vega, Paul Agraz (trumpet); Jose Davila, Ozzie Melendez (trombone); Oscar Hernandez (piano); Ruben Rodriguez (bass); Bobby Allende (bongos); George Delgado (congas) Pablo "Chino" Nunez (timbales).
Additional personnel: Jimmy Sabater (vocals).
Recorded at Sear Sound Studios, New York, New York.
UN GRAN DIA EN EL BARRIO was nominated for the 2003 Grammy Awards for Best Salsa Album.
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. ~ Jesse Jarnow