Spanish Harlem Orchestra
Spanish Harlem Orchestra, the two-time Grammy winning Salsa and Latin Jazz band, sets the standard for excellence when it comes to authentic, New York style, hard core Salsa. Live or recorded, it doesn’t get any better.
Whether in a concert hall or an outdoor jazz festival, there is no easing you in: the orchestra comes at you full force from start to finish. Their on-stage energy, rich sound, and musical precision leave audiences mesmerized until the last note is played. With an unwavering respect for the music’s rich history, thirteen world-class musicians and vocalists come together to create an unparalleled musical experience.
Now in its fourteenth year, SHO is dedicated to the sounds of the barrio. 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 their own musical boundaries. 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.
After two decades of session work, composing, arranging and producing, band leader Oscar Hernández was approached by producer Aaron Levinson in 2000 about the idea of assembling and recording a Latin jazz orchestra. The result was Un Gran Dia en el Barrio, the 2002 debut recording from Spanish Harlem Orchestra (SHO) that scored a Grammy nomination for Best Salsa Album and a Latin Billboard Award for Salsa Album of the Year. Based on the success of their first CD, Hernández and SHO began touring and wowing audiences all over the world.
Their first Grammy win came 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.
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.”