Un Gran Dia en El Barrio

Un Gran Dia en El Barrio

by Spanish Harlem Orchestra


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Looking to give New York's flagging Latin music scene the same shot in the arm that Havana's Buena Vista Social Club provided for Cuba, producer Aaron Luis Levinson convened some of the music's unsung heroes for a tribute to classic salsa that sounds like the heartbeat of an uptown Saturday night circa 1973. Helmed by Oscar Hernandez, pianist in Rubén Blades's band and Manny Oquendo's Libre, the Spanish Harlem Orchestra gathers today's leading exponents of classic salsa, or salsa dura -- nonpareil sonero Herman Olivera, trumpeter Ray Vega, bongosero Bobby Allende, trombonist Jose Davila -- and a sprinkling of veterans such as neighborhood boy Jimmy Sabater, the vocal favorite from Joe Cuba's sextet. Apart from the Willie Colon/Hector Lavoe classic "Llegó la Banda" and the opener "Mama Guela" by Tito Puente, the repertoire consists of lesser-known material and a tapestry of Spanish Harlem salsa diversity -- fiery mambos, concupiscent boleros, moody guajiras -- as it existed in the '60s, somewhere between Blades's nascent social consciousness and the hard-charging sound that was eventually overpowered by disco. Levinson, who apprenticed himself to legendary Latin producer Al Santiago, is likewise loyal to the classic method -- Un Gran Día en El Barrio crackles with the power of a live band together in the studio. Collective centuries of experience are caught on tape, from the vets down to ringers such as bari saxman Mitch Frohman, a resident of Tito Puente's band and representative of the strong Jewish presence in the heyday of salsa. Above all, the album reaffirms the primacy of a New York sound, powered by Puerto Rican adaptations of Cuban music, performed by the mosaic of Latinos (and Jews and African Americans) that made up East Harlem. The music that became salsa, which in turn infected all of South America and finally the world, truly began here. All props given to the oldsters of Havana, but if you really wanna dance, there's only one social club to join.

Product Details

Release Date: 09/17/2002
Label: Rope A Dope
UPC: 0075679313522
catalogNumber: 93135


  1. Mama Guela
  2. Obsesion
  3. Tambori
  4. Aprende a Querer
  5. La Musica Es Mi Vida
  6. Llego la Banda
  7. Pa' Gozar
  8. Somos Iguales
  9. Guaguanco
  10. Pueblo Latino

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Spanish Harlem Orchestra   Primary Artist
Bobby Allende   Bongos
Mitch Frohman   Baritone Saxophone
Oscar Hernandez   Piano,Musical Direction
Ozzie Melendez   Trombone
Jimmy Sabater   Vocals
George Delgado   Conga
Raul Agraz   Trumpet
Ray Vega   Trumpet
Chino Nuñez   Timbales
Pablo "Chino" Nuñez   Timbales
Rubén Rodríguez   Bass
Herman Olivera   Vocals
Jose Davila   Trombone

Technical Credits

Marty Sheller   Arranger
Angel Fernandez   Arranger
Oscar Hernandez   Arranger,Musical Director
Tim Holmes   Graphic Design
Gilbert Lopez   Arranger
Todd Parker   Engineer
Aaron Luis Levinson   Producer

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Un Gran Dia en El Barrio 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm not a music critic, but I found a very flat sound, is music and lirics but without the soul. It seems that the nurturing ground that elaborated "salsa" music 30-40 years ago (after the silencing of the Cuban Music)is not longer existing.