La Raza Latina: A Salsa Suite
Larry Harlow & his orchestra
and his Big Band
Alfredo de la Fe
Lincoln Center NYC
14 August 2010
The biggest happening in the City for Salsa music was Sat.'s Lincoln Center out of
doors Raza Latina Concert w/ Larry Harlow. It was just spectacular. The evening
was PERFECTO, a warm summer night w/ no humidity & according to Lincoln Ctr.
they had a record breaking crowd of more than 17,000 people, never before in
Damrosh Park was brimming w/ salsa music fans from all walks of life: young,
mature, white, black & all colors of Latinos were on hand to see the Latin music
opus that Larry Harlow wrote in 1977 but was never done live until Sat. Aug. 14,
A young Ruben Blades sang in the original recording & was again united w/ El
Judio Maravilloso alongside Adonis Puentes on vocals & Larry Harlow's vocal crew
on the last tune, La Cartera. Overall, it was a great & successful evening of music
that put a spotlight on salsa once more in NYC.
The moment Larry took the stage, he greeted 'la gente" and did not divide or put
borders around the music dividing it into various countries but said a simple word:
The moment the band hit, the crowd roared, jumped to their feet, sang, screamed
& most of all DANCED in the aisles.
No one needed to tell the people what to do, the 50 piece orchestra started & the
17,000+ strong crowd responded. There was an electrical current that bonded
public to artist in an immediate connection of joy & exhilaration!
Adonis Puentes was impressive on vocals joined by Harlow directing the orchestra
composed of Bobby Sanabria's big band that opened the show. And once the
dancers came out & the swing was mounting, everyone in the band got into the
groove... at one point, the string section aimed their bows in counterpoint to the
dancers on stage....fabuloso!
But the folks went wild when Ruben Blades took the stage. Although you couldn't
hear the vocals when he first took the mike, they then raised the sound so you
could hear him clearly....
Ruben sang in English & Spanish proving that this music that traveled from Africa
can be interpreted in any language & still connect w/ its crowd.
There were so many dynamic solos as well as a four part harmonized coro that
absolutely elevated the power of the sound. However, you couldn't hear the violin
solos in the first movement of the Salsa Suite....
For me, the highlight of the show was the trio of violin solos. Ahh, Lewis Kahn's
use of minor notes touched the emotions while Alfredo did his dance while playing
major chords & arpeggios.
The Trio of Soneros traded barbs during the last number when Larry Harlow sat
down to play the piano on one of his HIT tunes: La Cartera ending the concert w/
thunderous applause & machine gun shouts of "OTRA, OTRA, OTRA...."
And after it was all over, the crowd of many Puerto Ricans who loved hearing the
Afro-Caribbean sounds of Harlow tried to continue the party w/ panderos,
maracas, güiros & song. About 5 musicians stood on top of those flat pillars lining
the entrance of Lincoln Center & the crowd followed them.
It was the perfect gathering of tribal exhilaration that swept everyone, no matter
where they were from, away!
Y no podia faltar....mi bandera Borinqueña.... that the impromptu "bembe" wiped
out & waved as the crowd gathered around the fringes of 62nd & Amsterdam.
Until the police arrived to break up the party.
Ahhh, it was just like 1977 all over again.
La Raza Latina Concert - Aurora Flores
Larry Harlow "deserves all the accolades and recognition possible, for being there from
the start, loving and caring for the music." ~ Rubén Blades
PHOTOS & VIDEOS: