A bite from the apple.

Author:Sola, Vicki

Choco Orta's CD Ahora Mismo ... Choco Orta, (produced by Gilbert Santa Rosa and Charlie Donato) is dedicated, in Orta's own words, "to the three greatest female salsa singers in the world--Celia Cruz, La Lupe, and Graciela Perez." The production, part of a tribute created by Santa Rosa's label, Caminalo Discos, to honor the abovenamed icons, features the numbers Ahora Mismo, Ay Jose, Con Mil Desenganos, Cucala (with guest artist Moncho Rivera), Dile Que Por Mi No Tema, Embriagame, Lo Mismo Me Da, Marido Majadero, and one that consistently garners positive response from my radio listeners: Por Accidente. Onboard with Orta are Johnny Torres (bass), Luis Marin (piano), Sammy Garcia (congas), Carlos "Charlie" Sierra (timbal), Richie Bastar (bongo), Jan Ducklerc and Luis Aquino (trumpets), Jorge Diaz (trombone), Ricardo Pons (alto saxophone), and Sammy Velez (baritone saxophone). Adalberto Santiago, Santa Rosa and Donato handle the "coros" (background vocals). A dynamic Puerto Rican vocalist/percussionist that also composes, arranges, and leads a 13-piece/all-male orchestra, Orta shared the stage with Santa Rosa and Jose Alberto (El Canario) at the last Los Angeles Salsa Congress, and recently protagonized a sold-out concert at the Bronx's Hostos Community College, while performing to more than a thousand fans. The multi-talented, charismatic artist is one of salsa's brightest stars and deserves much more recognition than she has received to date. Check out Ahora Mismo ... Choco Orta, and you'll see why!

Ramon Rosado and Victor M. Maldonado, fronting the group Mana, have a new one CD titled Estamos Gozando, Volume 2. "Mana esta en la calle! (Mana is out on the streets!)", proclaims Rosado. "We're back, and we're staying! Despite our first CD's many good reviews, we felt virtually ignored. Ignored, but not beaten--and definitely not discouraged!" What does the title mean? "Estamos gozando (we're enjoying ourselves)", explains Rosado, "is a phrase that co-leader Victor uses a lot, to put people at ease ..." Puerto Rican trumpet legend Elias Lopes, during a phone conversation with me, claimed he coined the phrase. I don't dispute it. Neither does Victor." Performing with keyboardits Rosado and timbalero Maldonado are the likes of bongocero Carmelo Berrios, bassist Marco Gonzalez, conguero Willie "Tito" Andino, trombonist Christian Kollar, tenor saxophonist/flutist Al Acosta, and trumpeter Chris Thompson. Lead vocals are delivered by Fernando...

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