January 2008

The Roberto Linares Brown Orchestra
(a.k.a. Habana norte)
January 25, 2008 Lula Lounge Toronto
Forging Ahead — Pa’lante
by Joyce Corbett with photos by Roger Humbert
A musical extravaganza! That’s what it was. The Roberto Linares Brown Orchestra won over their audience with their musicianship, arrangements and showmanship. The energy burst from the stage like a drug entering body and mind. It was an intense experience, so much going on in the music at all times. After-effects? Nothing serious, continued elation from the songs still playing in your head, a stiff neck from bobbing your head along to the rhythm, a sore body from excessive dancing or a desire to learn how to dance.

Not only were the dancers happy that night but I believe a few non-dancing listeners were converted to timba-lovers, or at least lovers of the Roberto Linares Brown Orchestra. The layers of sound, the rhythms, the rich percussion, the horn arrangements, the counter-currents, the call and response patterns, the smiles, the moves, this band has it all. The elements of many musical styles are integrated here, sometimes popping out in pure form — salsa, reggaeton, son, jazz, rumba, cumbia — the meshing of the many elements is masterful. This is new Latin music. The roots of Cuban music though, are still very present. Appropriately, Roberto Linares Brown’s newly released CD is titled Que no se pierda la escencia. (roughly — Don’t lose the essence).

Adding to the general excitement and keeping the show firing along was the seemingly constant change-up of skillful and charismatic singers and combinations of singers. Alberto Alberto and Yani Borrell were the main men with back-up singer Erico Orozco. Rapero “Netto” Brooks joined in on a few numbers, with Yani Borrell on “Esa nina es un chocolé”, and “Salsa con Reggaeton”, the latter song a solution to those nights when some people want to hear salsa and others reggaeton. Rapera Telmary joined with Alberto Alberto on a few songs and performed one of her own, “Que equivoca'o”. Of course, by the end, everyone was on the stage. This group is so extraordinary, the challenge for them will be keeping up to the bar they have set for themselves. Brown has composed and arranged for and played piano in some of Cuba’s top bands (Valentin y Los del Caribe, Azucar Negra, Adalberto Alvarez y su son) for years and all of that experience shows in his own music.

Roberto Linares Brown

Alberto Alberto & Telmary

Wilfrido Junior & Ernesto Brooks

Yankar Gonzales & Yani Borrell
I highly recommend the CD, it should become an international success, but, and I can’t stress this enough – you also HAVE to see them live for the total experience. The Roberto Linares Brown CD release party is coming up on February 22nd at Toronto’s Lula Lounge, don’t miss it!
> more photos of the band <
The Roberto Linares Brown Orchestra
Roberto Linares Brown – piano, background vocals and musical director
Jorge Luis “Papiosco” Torres – congas
Aris Montenegro – bongo
Wilfrido Junior – guiro
Chendi Leon Jr. – timbale
Yoser Rodriguez – bass
Kervin Barreto y Alex Michael – trumpets
Yankar Gonzales and Yannick Malboeuf – trombones
Alberto Alberto and Yani Borrell – vocalists
Erico Orozco – back up vocals
Telmary, Ernesto Brooks (Netto) – rappers
We welcome your comments and feedback
Joyce Corbett
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Roger Humbert
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The Live Music Report

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