The facts are remarkable: For 15 years the Spanish Harlem Orchestra has been a force of nature as the group rules the salsa waves that start in El Barrio in East Harlem and wash over the whole world wherever salsa and Latin jazz is heard and loved.
Since their inception under the musical direction of pianist, composer and arranger Oscar Hernández, the group has delighted audiences with music featuring intricate arrangements and viscerally exciting rhythms, steeped in the authentic salsa tradition.
Their high-energy performances have thrilled crowds across the globe from Asia to Australia, from Latin America to Europe. Grounded in the past, but with a focused eye on the future, Spanish Harlem Orchestra continues to play an integral role in ensuring salsa dura or hard salsa is not just alive, but a thriving musical force.
“Over the course of 15 years, the consistent thread in each of our records has been the hardcore rhythm, sophisticated arrangements and a lot of care toward producing quality music with high integrity for our genre,” Oscar says.
Each member of Spanish Harlem Orchestra has a significant connection to the authentic salsa tradition. It begins with Oscar, who has long been considered one of the most prominent musicians on the Latin, salsa and Latin jazz music scene. Oscar’s musical legacy can be traced back to the 1970s, when he performed with salsa legends including Tito Puente, Machito, Celia Cruz, Ray Barretto, Rubén Blades, Conjunto Libre and Willie Colon. Later, Oscar went on to become musical director for Paul Simon as well as arranger for Gloria Estefan.
The group is fronted by the vocal prowess of longtime members Marco Bermudez and Carlos Cascante who, along with livewire brass, woodwinds and rhythm sections, have powered the band through two Grammy-nominated and two Grammy-winning albums: Across 11th Street (Libertad Records 2004) and Viva La Tradicion (Concord Picante 2010).
To celebrate their 15th year together, the group is releasing their sixth album, appropriately titled Anniversary, and will feature one of Latin music’s most promising, new stars, vocalist and flutist Jeremy Bosch. On his recording debut for SHO, the 27-year-old can be heard on the album’s second offering “Yo Te Prometo” and his virtuosic flute playing is featured on “Goza El Ritmo.”
While Spanish Harlem Orchestra’s previous album featured jazz greats Chick Corea and Joe Lovano, Anniversary allows the band to speak for themselves over the course of 13 lively tracks. Standout moments include the opener “Esa Nena,” which will instantly bring listeners to their feet. Jazz trumpet legend Randy Brecker is a featured guest on Oscar’s original song “Somos Uno.” The album is co-produced by Spanish Harlem Orchestra’s trombonist and 2018 Grammy Nominee Doug Beavers.