Spanish Harlem Orchestra, the two-time Grammy winning Salsa and Latin Jazz band, sets the standard for excellence for authentic, New York style, hard core salsa. Now in their fourteenth year, their music is characterized by the raw, organic and vintage sound defined by the genre. They are on a mission to keep the musical legacy of salsa dura “hard salsa” alive and expand its audience to those who love great music, not just Latin music. Grounded in the past, while focused on the future, they strive to keep the music relevant, while creating a unique and fresh approach.
With four albums, and as many Grammy nominations, this Latin Jazz powerhouse knows it is crucial to continually push themselves and raise the bar. They recently released their fifth album, featuring two of America’s great jazz icons, Chick Corea & saxophonist Joe Lovano. Oscar Hernandez and Spanish Harlem Orchestra continue to raise the bar of excellence in their music.
Their bandleader, Oscar Hernández, is all about tradition. Born into a large Puerto Rican family living in the Bronx, it was the nearby Spanish Harlem neighborhood that shaped his cultural musical sensibilities. The soundtrack to this bustling enclave in the ‘60s, emanating from any given window on any given day, was a mix of Latin Jazz and American pop radio.
Hernandez started playing the trumpet at age twelve; he switched to piano shortly thereafter. By the time he finished his teen years, he was making a living as a professional musician and gigging with some of the most talented Latin Jazz artists of the ‘70s. He spent much of the ‘80s producing, arranging and playing piano for Panamanian vocalist Rubén Blades while simultaneously leading his own band, Seis del Solar. In the 90’s Hernandez produced a recording titled “Dance City” which received a rave review in the NY Times and led Paul Simon to call him as arranger/producer & musical director for his Broadway show “The Capeman.”
SHO received their first Grammy win in 2004 with their follow-up album, Across 110th Street, a reference to Harlem’s southern boundary. Featuring Ruben Blades as guest artist, the combination proved to be explosive and featured Blades singing in the style of Salsa Dura that many of his fans longed to hear. Released in 2007, United We Swing earned yet another Grammy nomination. The album features Paul Simon as special guest singing a burning rendition of his hit “Late in The Evening” — SHO style. Their second Grammy winning album, Viva La Tradicion, was released in 2010.
Purchase tickets for the Jazz Alley show HERE.