When the Spanish Harlem Orchestra played on Tuesday, Feb. 13, the lively salsa music resonated throughout the packed rows of Campbell Hall with an upbeat energy that lasted from the very beginning until the very end of the performance. The Grammy Award-winning musicians played an assortment of salsa, merengue and jazz rhythms that moved audience members so much that many of them left their seats to dance in the aisles.
Pianist and leader Oscar Hernandez vibrantly led his orchestra through revitalized Latin dance music classics, while other band members demonstrated their musical talent and prowess with improvisational solos. Noticeable audience favorites were the three vocalists Ray De La Paz, Marco Bermudez and Willie Torres. The singers harmonized complex melodies while performing synchronized salsa dances that would leave many other musicians gasping for breath. Although the Spanish Harlem Orchestra was only recently formed in 2000, they have been at the forefront of the Latin music scene since their birth and have received much critical acclaim. After seeing them perform live, I’m not surprised.
“We’ve paid our dues,” Hernandez remarked in an earlier interview with UK webzine Fly. “It is no accident that we sound the way we do! After 30-something years, and I say this without ego, I don’t feel that we should take a back seat to anyone.”
The Spanish Harlem Orchestra played songs from their 2004 Grammy Award-winning album Across 110th Street, in addition to new selections from their upcoming album, which will be released mid-May. If you were unfortunate enough to miss this outstanding performance, keep in mind that their award-winning albums are in stores now, and keep watching for their new release, which is sure to meet high expectations of music lovers anywhere.