Jazz Caliente: The Spanish Harlem Orchestra's 15 Years of Excellence

Sep 22, 2017

The Spanish Harlem Orchestra is on tour celebrating its 15th year of performing and recording.  All of their albums have been nominated for Grammy awards and they've collected two awards so far.  Their shows sell out all over the US and the world.  They'll be at Jazz Alley next week, Tuesday September 26 and Wednesday September 27.

What makes this group so special?  Most likely, it's the vision of excellence held and shared by the band and its pianist/music director/leader Oscar Hernández.

Hernández grew up in the South Bronx, steeped in the traditions of Latino culture.  He was playing music professionally by the time he was 18, and working 7 or 8 shows a week with various bands in New York City.  

After a couple of decades establishing himself as a pianist, arranger and producer for the likes of Ray Barretto, Celia Cruz and Rubén Blades, Oscar was presented with a chance to form his own Latin jazz orchestra. 

Oscar Hernández at Lincoln Center's Out of Doors series, 2017
Credit Luxe Creative Imaging / Courtesy of SHO

Hernández's vision for The Spanish Harlem Orchestra is highly energetic, true to the traditions of  New York's "salsa dura" (hard salsa) while moving the music forward, and it includes top-notch Latin jazz performances.  These 13 world-class musicians and singers really do achieve excellence.

The band includes a number of fine musicians who are familiar to Seattle-area audiences.  Vocalist Carlos Cascante, trombonist Doug Beavers and saxophonist Mitch Frohman have all made multiple appearances in the Pacific NW with other bands and with their own projects.

Oscar Hernández has also recently recorded with his own Latin Jazz quintet, Alma Libre.  You'll  be hearing selections from their new album "The Art of Latin Jazz" on Jazz Caliente.

Watch American Latino's informative video profile of Oscar Hernández and the Spanish Harlem Orchestra:

And listen for the Spanish Harlem Orchestra to start the show this week on Saturday Jazz Caliente!

Jazz Caliente airs Saturdays at 5:00 p.m.  The show is hosted by Robin Lloyd and produced by KNKX Public Radio.