Celebrating its 20th anniversary, Conjunto Imagen released its 12th production, Afinando (Muziq Records), whose 13 tracks feature the vocals of guest Tito Allen, along with various invited artists--Nelson Moreno, Luis "Campana" Hernández, Roberto Rodríguez, Jr., Máximo Rodríguez, Kevin Rodríguez, Nelson "Gazú" Jaime, Willie Villegas, Willie Romero, Carl Corwin, Luis Pereira, Hadar Noiberg, Anthony Alvarez, Gilberto "Cano" Velázquez, and Ricardo Molfón.
Influenced by icons Arsenio Rodríguez and Johnny Pacheco, Conjunto Imagen is, in my opinion, one of the most swinging and authentic bands around--and also one of the most underrated. Conguero Ernie Acevedo, tresero Junior Rivera and the other band members have donated their talents annually to just about every benefit I've produced for my noncommercial radio program "¡Qué Viva La Música!" Every year, excited attendees have approached me, inquiring with baited breath, "Who are those guys?" My answer is always, "Conjunto Imagen! I've been trying to tell everyone how great this band is for years!"
Joining co-leaders Acevedo and Rivera and helping to create that unique, trademark wall of sound that packs dance floors, are its core members: Louie Arona (bass), Excer Rivera (piano), Nelson "Aceite" Román (bongó and minor percussion), Luis Pérez and Miguel Román (trumpets), Angel Talavera (baritone sax and flute), and singers Eddie Rosado, Johnny Ortiz and Alex Rodríguez.
Arrangements are credited to Acevedo, Rivera, Nelson "Gazú" Jaime, Willie Ruiz, Máximo Rodríguez, Luis Pereira, Charlie García, Aránzola Mesa, Pedro Pablo, René Leyva, and Carlos Lalane.
To me, Afinando is--whether you're a listener or a dancer--one of those CDs that, wherever the laser shines, it sparkles!
Vocalist Yoko has taken the Big Apple by storm with the release of La Japonesa Salsera (El Chance Music), produced by Willie Ruiz.
A native of Osaka, Japan, Yoko began her career at the age of fifteen, singing with a local rock band. As a Spanish major at the Kyoto University of Foreign Languages, she found herself falling in love with salsa music. While performing at local jazz clubs, back in 1996, the singer was invited to join the salsa group called Conjunto Mamborama. When they became regulars at Osaka's Pata Pata de la Salsa Club, Yoko decided to leave her jazz singing behind. Word of her talent spread like wildfire, and she was soon approached to join Las Estrellas (a band organized by former members...