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Grupo Folklorico and the Music of Arsenio Rodriguez
(Published: March 10, 2010)


Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture will present, by popular demand, the return of one of Latin music's most important alliances, the groundbreaking GRUPO FOLKLORICO y EXPERIMENTAL NUEVAYORQUINO, on Saturday, March 20, 2010 at 7:30pm in a gala concert paying homage to a true musical genius, the legendary ARSENIO RODRIGUEZ, considered by many musicologists to be the greatest composer/musician of Afro-Cuban music of the 20th century. With Grupo Folklorico's two seminal recordings from the mid-70s, produced by Rene Lopez and Andy Kaufman, Concepts in Unity and Lo Dice Todo (We Say It All), this legendary Bronx orchestra introduced the world to a new way of playing Latin music - New York style. Grounded in community and folklore, it encompassed various musical genres from both the Cuban and Puerto Rican diasporas. This concert is dedicated to Arsenio Rodriguez's memory and will feature compositions not heard in many years.

The members of GRUPO FOLKLORICO y EXPERIMENTAL NUEVAYORQUINO are: Andy Gonzalez (bass/leader);Charlie Santiago (timbales, bongos, percussion); Jerry Gonzalez (trumpet, percussion); Oscar Hernandez (piano); Nelson Gonzalez (tres guitar); Gene Golden (congas, bata drums, percussion); Reynaldo Jorge (trombone); Eddy Zervigon (flute); Jorge Luis Maldonado (vocals); Pedro "Pedrito" Martinez (vocals, bata drums, percussion) ;Eddie Venegas (trombone, violin); Abraham Rodriguez (vocals, bata drums, percussion); Tony Rosa (congas, batadrums, percussion); Guido Gonzalez (trumpet); and Rene Lopez, Jr. (percussion). The concert will feature four special invited guest artists who performed with Arsenio -- Alfredo "Chocolate" Armenteros (trumpet); Sergio "Armandito" Armenteros (trumpet); Alfredo Valdes, Jr. (piano) and Israel Berrios (vocals, guitar).

A free seminar "La Gente del Bronx: Arsenio Rodriguez, a "People's Musicia"" will take place on Thursday, March 18, 2010 at 5:30pm at the Hostos Art Gallery. The seminar takes its name from one of Rodriguez's most beloved tunes, an ode to the South Bronx, and will focus on the tà pico and Afro-centric nature of his music. Participants will include David R. Garcia, author of "Arsenio Rodriguez and the Transnational Flows of Latin Popular Music," and musicologist Rene Lopez.

Grupo Folklorico y Experimental Nuevayorquino was an idea created at the Gildersleeve Avenue home of Andy and Jerry Gonzalez in the Bronx in the early ‘70s. Originally named El Conjunto Anabacoa, the group became the fifteen-piece ensemble known as Grupo Folklorico and performed several East Coast and New York area concerts. The original band included Manny Oquendo, Heny Alvarez, "Chocolate" Armenteros, Virgilio Marti, Gonzalo Fernandez, Willie Garcia, Frankie Rodriguez, Jose Rodrigues and Milton Cardona. Grupo's sound captured the cultural melting pot of New York like no other orchestra of the day. A favorite at university campuses, festivals and arts centers, they performed at the Smithsonian Institute, Lincoln Center and President Carter's Inaugural Ball. The group became a major cult band as a result of their performances and two recordings. More recently, Grupo Folklorico performed in 2007 in Berlin and in 2008 at Hostos and in Washington, D.C. at the American Folklife Festival honoring Rene Lopez's meritorious service for his affiliation of many years with the Smithsonian.

Arsenio Rodriguez (1911-1970), one of Cuban music's most important figures, was a prolific composer, master of thetres (Cuban guitar), percussionist and band leader. Considered a central figure in the creation of modern day Salsa, he is credited with over 1000 compositions performed and recorded by a veritable "who's who" of Latin music world-wide. Blinded at age seven by a horse's kick to his head, he began playing a variety of instruments. He began composing in his teens, and the first recordings of his compositions emerged in 1937. In a career spanning the mid-30s through 1970, he recorded prolifically. In 1953 he relocated to New York and performed mainly in New York, Puerto Rico and Los Angeles until his death in Los Angeles in 1970.

Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture is located on the campus of Hostos Community College/CUNY at 450 Grand Concourse at 149th Street, Bronx, NY. Tickets for GRUPO FOLKORICO y EXPERIMENTAL NUEVAYORQUINO onSaturday, March 20, 2010 at 7:30pm are $35 & $25 (group rates available) and can be purchased online at www.hostos.cuny.edu/culturearts or by calling the Hostos box office at 718.518.4455 (Mon. through Fri., 12:30 - 6:30PM, and two hours before show time on weekends). Hostos Community College is off the Major Deegan Expressway and accessible by IRT 2, 4, 5, BX1 and BX19 to Grand Concourse and 149th Street.

More Information: http://www.hostos.cuny.edu/culturearts

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