Felix Hernandez Rhythm Revue / Screening: Salsa: Latin Pop Music in the Cities

August 9, 2015, 7pm – 9pm
East River Park
Manhattan

In 1983, Felix Hernandez began a two-year project traveling the U.S. collecting hundreds of hours of interviews with R&B artists. The material was used for a 13-part radio documentary called Harlem Hit Parade, which was syndicated to 70 NPR stations in the mid-80’s. In 1986, Felix introduced Rhythm Review, New York’s first radio show devoted exclusively to classic soul and R&B. It premiered on WBGO and is now in its 29th year. In 1989, Felix was awarded the first of many production grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts, to develop and produce a weekly radio presentation of live blues and R&B. BluesStage, hosted by the late Tony-winning actress and singer Ruth Brown, ran six years on 200+ NPR stations. The series featured 234 unique episodes of live performances, recorded and produced by Hernandez on location nationwide. In 1991, Felix did his first Rhythm Review Dance Party at Tramps in New York City. The party outgrew Tramps and moved to the Roseland Ballroom in 1992, where it was held for over two decades. Felix’s unique mix of classic soul, disco and funk consistently draws a crowd of 2,500 to 3,500 dancers per event.

“Salsa: Latin Pop Music in the Cities”
Director:  Jeremy Marre, 60 min.

This 1979 documentary profiles the hot Afro-Latin dance music called salsa, a zesty marriage of North American jazz, Puerto Rican bomba/plena, and Cuban mambo, rumba, danzon, and cha-cha-cha rhythms. The music was born in New York in the ’60s and since then, it has served as the musical lingua franca of the Hispanic world. The footage in this film is incredible. You have Tito Puente, the late “King of the Timbales,” playing outdoors in the Bronx with keyboardist Charlie Palmieri (the brother of legendary piano whiz Eddie Palmieri), who, in another segment, conducts a Latin music class for school kids who proceed to jam on his hit “Mambo Joe.” Panamanian singer Rubén Blades of the historic Fania label is also showcased, along with his on-point discussion on Latin American music and politics, which are matched by the ex-Young Lord member Felipe Luciano, who puts the music at the center of the urbane Latino experience in New York. The highpoint of this documentary is the rare rehearsal footage of señora Celia Cruz, “the Queen of Salsa,” whose elegant choreography, elliptical phrasing, and piercing vocals set the standard for all salsa singers. Along with the poignant footage from Puerto Rico and along with the folkloric beauty of the African-derived Santeria religious ceremonies, Salsa: Latin Pop Music in the Cities shows that salsa is the sonic sauce of the Americas, delivered from the Big Apple.

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