Release Date: January 22, 2022
Multi-GRAMMY® Winning pianist, composer and bandleader Oscar Hernández presents his new album Visión. Supported by his long-standing quintet Alma Libre, and augmented by special guests Joe Locke, Aaron Janik and Luisito Quintero, Hernández’s third release as a leader is a powerful document that reaffirms his standing as one of the most important voices in Latin music. This is the second release for Ovation Records, a new record label founded by Hernández in 2020.
Visión is a seminal work for the decorated artist, who described the experience of preparing and recording the project as an important creative outlet during the shutdown. “The creative process was in full force during that time,” reflects Hernández. “Recording this album was a way to react positively, and to counteract the negative circumstances surrounding the pandemic.” And so, the prolific composer added ten new compositions to his already expansive and wide-ranging repertoire. In May of this year, he and Alma Libre – his Los Angeles-based ensemble featuring the legendary saxophonist Justo Almario, drummer Jimmy Branly, bassist Oscar Cartaya, and percussionist Christian Moraga – recorded Visión, bringing these brilliant new tunes to life. The title is of significance to Hernández. “When I was young, I was taught by my family that you need to have a vision to accomplish things. I believe that if you see it and you believe it, you can achieve it,” he says. This uplifting title seemed a fitting response to the tenuous situation at the time the album was conceived.
Hernández is perhaps best known to modern-day audiences as the leader and producer of the highly acclaimed Spanish Harlem Orchestra. With Hernández at the helm, the 13-piece all-star salsa big band has gone on to win 3 GRAMMY® Awards, and release eight critically acclaimed albums, including 2018 GRAMMY® winner Anniversary. In 2020, Spanish Harlem Orchestra released The Latin Jazz Project, their first-ever all-Latin jazz release. Referred to as an “opus that dazzles” by Jazzwise Magazine, The Latin Jazz Project allowed Hernández to musically stretch and display his considerable chops. Visión continues in that tradition while showcasing Hernández outstanding musical facility in a more intimate setting.
Oscar Hernández’s storied career dates back to the 1970’s when he began performing and recording with original salsa legends such as Ismael Miranda, Celia Cruz, Pete “El Conde” Rodriguez, Conjunto Libre, Grupo Folkorico and Ray Barreto. He then went on to join Ruben Blades’ Seis Del Solar band and eventually became his Musical Director, charting the musical course for the salsa legend. Hernández soon became the Musical Director for Paul Simon as well as the orchestrator and arranger for Gloria Estefan. Hernández first recorded with Alma Libre in 2016, marked by the release of their debut The Art of Latin Jazz (Origin). In 2019, they released a sophomore effort Love The Moment (Origin). The album received worldwide acclaim, including a four star review from Downbeat Magazine that praised the “ensemble’s genius” and it was described as “harmonically sophisticated and rhythmically compelling” by The New York City Jazz Record. With Visión, Hernandez is in his element as he continues this tradition and showcases, once again, Latin jazz music of the highest caliber.
Love the Moment
Street Date: August 16, 2019
Release Show: Dizzy's Club, Jazz at Lincoln Center, October 13th
On his sophomore release with Origin Records, the Latin music titan displays his prowess as a pianist and composer on ten new original compositions.
Love the Moment presents Hernández in an intimate Latin jazz setting - a stark contrast from the 3x GRAMMY®-winning all star salsa band he is presently known for and leads, Spanish Harlem Orchestra. On this dynamic new venture, the pianist is given room to truly shine and showcase his vast musical chops. Love The Moment serves as a follow up to Hernández’s celebrated 2017 release The Art of Latin Jazz, which was referred to as “assertive and impressively varied work in tonal colour and drama” by Latin Jazz Network’s Raul da Gama.
Like it’s predecessor, Love The Moment presents a masterclass in Latin jazz, led by one of the genre’s most important figures. Oscar Hernández’s storied career dates back to the 1970’s when he began performing and recording with original salsa legends such as Ismael Miranda, Celia Cruz, Pete “El Conde” Rodriguez, Conjunto Libre and Grupo Folkorico. Hernández spent six years playing with Ray Barreto and appeared on five of his recordings including the seminal Rican/Struction. Hernández then went on to join Ruben Blades’ Seis Del Solar band and eventually became his Musical Director, charting the musical course for the salsa legend. Hernández soon became the Musical Director for Paul Simon as well as the orchestrator and arranger for Gloria Estefan.
Hernández cemented his legacy in with the formation of Spanish Harlem Orchestra, the 13-piece all star salsa big band he’s helmed since 2005. The 3x GRAMMY®-award winning ensemble is now in its 16th year and is considered one of the worlds’ premier salsa groups. 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 (“hard salsa”) is not just alive, but a thriving musical force. Their most recent release, Anniversary (Artist Share), received the GRAMMY®-Award for Best Tropical Latin Album. Hernández has been hard at work preparing their Latin-jazz tinged seventh release, due out in 2020.
With the scaled down ensemble on Love The Moment, Oscar Hernández demonstrates why he is one of the most important voices in Latin music. Joining Hernández is his consummate group Alma Libre which features Justo Almario on saxophone and flute, Oskar Cartaya on bass, Jimmy Branly on drums, and Christian Moraga on percussion. Trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos appears on three tracks and violinist Dayren Santamaria makes a guest appearance on one.
for Love the Moment
NEW YORK CITY JAZZ RECORD
”The sophomore release from Oscar Hernandez & Alma Libre finds the leader of the Grammy Award winning Spanish Harlem Orchestra in the more intimate setting of a quintet, shining a brighter spotlight on his skills as a soloist and composer/arranger.” Read the full review here.
DEE DEE MCNEIL
"This music easily demonstrates why this pianist and band leader is one of the most important voices in Latin music today." Read the full review here.
RAUL DA GAMA
LATIN JAZZ NETWORK
"The pianist’s playing is not only muscular and hugely powerful, but also delicate and elegant, often favouring the mellifluous timbre of his great instrument in the spacious and lofty arrangements of his work. The music of Love The Moment is something that will not be forgotten… not for a very long time." Full review here.
"For some listeners the overwhelming brassy sound of the big salsa bands, though great for dancing, makes it difficult to appreciate the nuances of Latin melodies and rhythms. This smaller unit, led by on the genre’s best, allows for that as the music breathes a little more easily." Review here.
"Hernández is perhaps best known for leading the Spanish Harlem Orchestra, a 13-piece salsa big band. With Alma Libre—comprising Justo Almario on saxophone and flute, Oskar Cartaya on bass, Jimmy Branly on drums and Christian Moraga on percussion—he presents a more intimate set of Latin jazz compositions." Announcement here.
JAMIE TORRES TORRES
FUNDACION NACIONAL PARA LA CULTURA POPULAR
Check out the full article in Spanish here.
LA JAZZ SCENE
"It is a pleasure getting to hear Oscar Hernandez in this intimate jazz setting, displaying plenty of ideas on the piano that are original yet fitting securely into the Afro-Cuban jazz tradition. Love The Moment is easily recommended." Review here.
"Professional and well played while leaving the emotion and passion in tact, there isn't a lick on this set of originals that you won't like. A well done ear opener." Review here.
LATINO MUSIC CAFE
"I really enjoyed “Love of the Moment” for the variety of music that Oscar Hernandez brings to the recording. Oscar knows the importance of a balance mix of songs, and here he brings us everything from spiced Latin Jazz, to a melodic Danzon, and even includes a smooth Bolero." Review here.
VICENTE TOLEDO ROHENA
"Love the moment’ es un proyecto excelente donde Hernández logra junto a su quinteto elaborar un arcoíris de posibilidades entre el jazz tradicional y el latino. Fluye de manera distintiva con un estilo propio que le brinda sus más de 40 años en el ambiente musical" Check out the full article in Spanish here.