Chico Alvarez & Mafimba: caught in the act.

Author:Spatz, Allan
 
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On August 14th, I had the pleasure of photographing Chico Alvarez and his conjunto Mafimba at SOB's (Sounds of Brazil) in New York City. What an incredible first set! Unfortunately, I had to leave in order to catch the last bus up to Riverdale (Bronx), so I can only imagine what the second set must have sounded like. But this was not the first time that I have been privileged to hear their music up close and personal, and the one thing I can relate about most of their performances is that Chico and his "mafimberos" sound absolutely great! I like all types of music, but I'm also old school, which means that it's that pure hard-driving Cuban masacote that does it for me every time. Mafimba's tumbao is simply infectious and they have always been a band that brings out the excitement of the traditional Cuban songbook, chosen especially by Alvarez for the hardcore salsero crowd to dance to. His book includes a variety of moods and colors, with styles that range from the very frenzied rumba-guaracha-mambo of the Palladium era, to the laidback son and chachacha of post-mambo era. And that includes an occasional hint of the charanga style as well. This night's performance was no exception. Being a lover of this genre of music, I derive enormous enjoyment not only from listening and dancing to their music, but also from capturing the excitement of their performance with my lens.

Mafimba consists of extremely talented and professional Cuban and Puerto Rican musicians; each in their own right is a seasoned master of his respective instrument. Individually, they really shine brightly. As soloists they can be depended on to deliver something unique and different. Collectively, they come together as one fine tuned machine to perform the greatest music on earth, the way it was intended to sound. In a word, these cats explode.

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I first met Ernesto "Chico" Alvarez Peraza a couple of years ago at a local function in Queens, and have enjoyed his music ever since. Chico is a native New Yorker specializing in hot dance music. He was born in Brooklyn and grew up in Cuba, and has been performing as a singer throughout the New York City tri-state area for the last four decades. He currently performs with the aforementioned ten-piece conjunto and can be heard...

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