I’ve spent the better part of my life working to promote and perpetuate the best of authentic Afro-Cuban music—commercially known as salsa and Latin jazz—on the airwaves and in print. It has been, and continues to be, a privilege and a labor of love.
This is a music that heals and energizes physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. Appreciated and respected worldwide, it has historically transcended barriers of language, race and ethnicity. During the six-plus years that I emceed Latin After Work Wednesdays at the popular, now-defunct midtown Manhattan venue, La Maganette, I’d often peer up at the bandstand and then out onto the dance floor, to see both areas packed with people of all persuasions, enjoying the music and each other. This is a microcosm of what the world should be.
I remain committed to working to enable our musicians—veterans and newcomers alike—to share their productions and performances with the public. And I remain committed to honoring our rich history and the icons of our music.
During the more than thirty years I've been involved in this industry, much has changed. The double-edged sword of technology has brought the very edges of the universe right to our fingertips, with just a click or two of the mouse. But technology has also been a real game changer for our musicians. Gone are the days when big record companies subsidized, produced, distributed and publicized productions. Today’s independent artist wears many hats—and often burns the candle at both ends—struggling to do all that those record companies used to do, plus learning how to effectively utilize the new technologies available in an age where record stores are closing, and more and more, new music is obtained, and often shared, for free, online.
The club scene has changed drastically. The New York-metro area is home to a good percentage of Latin music’s most talented musicians and bands.
But there remain only a handful of venues available to showcase such great talent. Gone are the times when a band had more than one gig on any given evening. And gone are the times when we could
breeze through Manhattan wishing we could see all of the bands performing in clubs and at hotel dances on any given night. Gone are the evenings we walked down Westchester Avenue in the Bronx,
as salsa, charanga and Latin jazz hit our eardrums from all directions.
And the commercial radio scene seems bleaker by the year.
In order to ensure the survival of this music, it remains critical to support live music, to purchase our musicians’ productions, buying actual CDs or paying for downloads. We must continue to support noncommercial programming, digging into our pockets to give whatever we can in order to keep our Latin music programs on the airwaves. And we must educate our children and grandchildren—and ourselves—plus give exposure to the next generation, who we hope will carry the cultural torch forward.
With this first issue of Viva La Música NY Style®, I renew my commitment to the cause. New York area musicians, we are here for you!
I thank my dedicated friends and associates who have come on board with me—all movers and shakers in their own rights—to support this venture, contributing their precious time, considerable talents and unique perspectives. As I state on this website's home page, I expect that this publication and our family of cultural warriors will grow and evolve, and I look forward to your feedback.
Speaking of cultural warriors, I particularly want to express my love and deepest appreciation to Rudolph and Yvette Mangual, for their tireless commitment to providing our worldwide Latin music community with an elegant, magnificent and comprehensive publication for these past twenty-one years. I thank them for affording me the opportunity to write for Latin Beat Magazine—it was my honor to do so, from my very first October 1998 “A Bite From the Apple” column to the one that appeared in Latin Beat Magazine's December/January 2013 issue.
Finally, I remember my mentor and dear friend, late historian, author and broadcaster Max Salazar. Thank you Max, for encouraging me and believing in me, and for educating and inspiring all of us.
February 28, 2013
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