An event that has been taking away my winter chills in recent years is my annual Latin Music Showcase and Dance, which I hold to support my Saturday afternoon radio program Que Viva la Música, and to benefit noncommercial WFDU-FM (89.1). I would like to express heartfelt thanks to all the performers who so generously donated their talents and time, for the purpose of keeping Latin music on WFDU-FM airwaves: Gilberto Colón, Jr. & Ensalada de Pulpo, Willie Amadeo and his Orchestra, Ernie Acevedo & Conjunto Imagen, Luisito Rey & Punto a Punto, Orlando Marin and his Recording Orchestra, Ricky González, Jimmy Bosch (whose jam with Con-junto Imagen was monstrous), Eddie Zervigon, Connie Grossman, Bill Quiñones (Nuyorican Salsa Boys' brilliant leader and trumpeter), dancers "Mambo D" Delille Thomas and Glenda Heffer, the International Mambo Dancers, and all who came out to pack La Maganette that evening.
I also thank La Maganette's Tony Rodriguez, my hard working committee, and our sponsors who made it happen -- Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center, Fleet Bank, my own bro Sal Solá, and Descarga Catalog. The evening really demonstrated to me the concept of strength and spirit that exists when different facets of a community come together to safeguard and celebrate what is precious.
Last spring, I had invited pianist Ricky González to come and jam with Gilberto Colón, Jr.'s Latin jazz ensemble at my bash. At the time I extended my invitation, I knew how busy Ricky González, was, being one of salsa's most sought-after pianists, arrangers, producers, and musical directors. I knew how well Ricky and "Pulpo" complemented each other. The two friends had a fantastic chemistry, guesting on my show together, and I shall never forget the amazing April afternoon that we plugged both of their keyboards into my soundboard, and their four incredible hands went at it on the air.
González, who hails from the Dominican Republic, launched his meteoric career as a teenager. Gilberto Colón, Jr. has a vivid memory of hearing magnificent music wafting through the hallways of Johnny Colón's music school in East Harlem. He re- members his shock at opening the door to a small room and discovering "a young kid in an army jacket sitting at the piano"-- a fifteen-year-old González. Erroneous reports have stated that he was older at the time, but, in actuality, Ricky González was all of fifteen years old when he joined Ray Barretto's band in April of 1983. González began contributing...