Arsenio Rodriguez

*One of the more important legends to grace the Latin scene was the legendary composer, band leader and musician Arsenio Rodriguez. Rodriquez composed over 200 songs and claimed to be the true creator of the mambo, although this has been disputed by some.  

Blinded as a child, Arsenio was born in Cuba where he learned to play the tres (Cuban guitar).  He was instrumental in reorganizing the conjunto and in developing the son montuno and other Afro-Cuban rhythms.  

Famous for his use of three trumpets and introduction of the piano and conga drummer to the conjunto, this fusion improved  the sonority of the Cuban septetos.

Rodríguez also created various rhythms and harmonic tones that enriched the guaracha, son, and bolero-mamba and bolero-son.  He performed at the Palladium Ballroom in New York throughout the 1960s before eventually moving to California where he died in December 1970.

Grupo Folklorico y Experimental Nuevayorquino will honor Arsenio Rodriquez at Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture on Saturday, March 20, 2010 at 7:30pm, located on the campus of Hostos Community College/CUNY at 450 Grand Concourse at 149th Street, Bronx, NY.

Grupo Folklorico  consisting of 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, bata drums, percussion); Guido Gonzalez (trumpet); and René Lopez, Jr. (percussion), is itself a legendary band, known for its 1970s recordings produced by René Lopez and Andy Kaufman, Concepts in Unity and Lo Dice Todo (We Say It All), wherein the Bronx orchestra introduced the world to a new way of playing Latin music – New York style.

Created by Andy and Jerry Gonzalez in their Bronx Gildersleeve Avenue home in the 1970’s, Grupo Folklórico y Experimental Nuevayorquino was originally named El Conjunto Anabacoa.  They eventually became a fifteen-piece ensemble and performed at several East Coast and New York area concerts.  Grounded in community and folklore, their sound consists of various musical genres from both the Cuban and Puerto Rican diasporas.  Grupo Folklorico will dedicate their Saturday, March 20th concert to the memory of Arsenio Rodriguez by featuring Rodriquez’s compositions.  Some not heard in many years.  A further treat for Rodriguez fans will be the appearance of 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).

Also, Thursday, March 18, 2010, Hostos will feature within its Art Gallery a free seminar – La Gente del Bronx: Arsenio Rodriguez, a “People’s Musician” at 5:30 p.m.   The seminar will focus on the típico and Afro-centric nature of Rodriquez’s music.  Participants will include David R. Garcia, author of “Arsenio Rodriguez and the Transnational Flows of Latin Popular Music,” and musicologist René Lopez.

Tickets for GRUPO FOLKL?RICO y EXPERIMENTAL NUEVAYORQUINO on Saturday, 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.