A native of Lajas, Puerto Rico, the singer/songwriter Iris Gonzalez (pictured above) arrived in New York (along with her husband Amador) in 1983. Throughout her childhood, Gonzalez envisioned writing traditional Puerto Rican music by utilizing the cuatro guitar.
While working as an assistant teacher in the Bronx, she continued to pursue her musical vision, in an effort to realize her dreams. The recent passing of her husband inspired her to record an album comprised entirely of her own compositions, in his honor. The result is Mi Corazon Esta Sangrando, consisting of boleros and guarachas.
One of my personal favorites is El Regalito. We'll be hearing more from Gonzalez--she is currently at work on a second CD of original material.
Future laser luster... Conjunto Imagen's leader, Ernie Acevedo, is excited about a new album he's producing, geared for dancers and expected to be released in early June--Jenny Colon's Ahora Si. Acevedo describes said effort as "hardcore salsa, with all the ingredients of Conjunto Imagen, but with a female on vocals." Rafael de Jesus, William Duval, Charlie Garcia, Sol Colon, and Awilda Morales are featured as guests.
DJ Jeff's "hot pick of the month": Agua Limpia Todo, by Tito Puente, Jr.
The New York fans of Grupo Folklorico y Experimental Nuevayorkino (GFEN) received a double treat this year, according to my friend Keith Thomas, who characterizes the GFEN's March 20th line-up at Hostos Center for the Arts--a show designed to pay tribute to Arsenio Rodriguez--as "awesome." The GFEN cast included Andy Gonzalez (bass), Jerry Gonzalez (trumpet and congas), Nelson Gonzalez (tres), Oscar Hernandez (piano), Eddy Zervigon (flute), Guido Gonzalez (trumpet), Reynaldo Jorge (trombone), Eddie Venegas (trombone and violin), Charlie Santiago (timbal), Gene Golden, Tony Rosa, and Rene Lopez (percussion), Pedro Martinez and Abraham Rodriguez (percussion and vocals), and Jorge Maldonado (vocals). Among the special guests were Alfredito Valdes (piano), Israel Berrios (guitar and vocals), Alfredo "Chocolate" Armenteros (trumpet), and the latter's cousin, Sergio Armenteros (trumpet).
"To me," says Thomas, "the high point of the night was not just about Arsenio, but also about Graciela, who at the time of the concert was gravely ill. Israel Berrios shone once again in his featured number La Vida Es Un Sueno, a favorite of Graciela's, which he dedicated to her memory."
Grupo Folklorico's other gig took place...