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CHARANGA  MEETS SALSA DURA

CHARANSON and JIMMY BOSCH will appear at Cafe Cocomo on May 12

CHARANSON and JIMMY BOSCH will appear for a fund raiser  at Horace Mann Middle School on  May 13

 

Tickets are $12 for the May 13 th performance at:

                         Julio's Records 2884 Mission St SF (415)648-1054

                         Discolandia 2964 24th St  SF  (415) 824-9446

Charanson, a popular Bay Area Salsa band, joins with legendary trombonist Jimmy Bosch for two memorable performances.  The first show is at Cafe Cocomo.  Anthony Blea, leader of Charanson, has arranged for the second performance at Horace Mann Middle School to raise funds for their financially strapped music program. This is a  Bay Area Salsa Event that you can not afford to miss. Come out and enjoy the elegant stylings of Charanson's flute and violin sections coupled with the hard driving New York sound of Jimmy Bosch.  

Jimmy Bosch's albums  include Singing Trombone and Salsa Dura.  He is currently the musical director and featured soloist for Marc Anthony. This will be dream for both Salsa dancers and listeners.  

To get more background this upcoming Salsa event, rita@salsacrazy was able to talk with Anthony about his experiences as a student,  musician and teacher of Latin music. 

 

INTERVIEW WITH ANTHONY BLEA, LEADER OF "CHARANSON"

Rita: WHERE WERE YOU BORN?

AnthonySan Francisco, third generation. My father was originally from  New Mexico and my mother’s grandmother was from Guadalajara.

 

Photo by rita@salsacrazy

Anthony Blea playing violin  on a Sunday afternoon at Jelly's

Rita: ANYBODY IN YOUR FAMILY IN THE MUSIC BUSINESS?

Anthony: No, but my grandfather played the violin. He played all kinds of dance music in New Mexico. They played at the dances—violins, accordions, guitar. It was probably like line dancing with a real Mexican flavor. Also my brother plays percussion and he is the one who turned me on to the whole charanga scene.

Rita: HOW DID YOU GET INTERESTED IN CHARANGA?

Anthony: When I was 15, I studied at the Conservatory of Music preparatory school in San Francisco. By that time, I was a pretty accomplished violinist. My brother told me one day that there was a band playing at the Rathskeller restaurant in San Francisco,  The band was called Tipica Cienfuego— John Santos’ first band. Other players were John Calloway and __ It was about 1976 or 1977. Back in the day when there were only a handful of Salsa bands in the Bay Area. Only Tipica Cienfuegos, Ritmo 74, Salsa Caliente, Benny Velarde were around back then.

After the show,  I was talking one of the violinists and he said " Do you want to try playing this?" I said sure since I had never played violin plugged into an amp before. So I ripped into this concerto. Then everybody in the band stopped and looked over at me as if to say "Who the hell is that?"

The next week John Calloway called me asked to come check out their rehearsal. I came down and I was hired right then. The first gig I played was at the SF Civic, opening  for Celia Cruz, Johnny Ventura and Isamael Miranda.

Rita: HOW DID YOU GET TO ATTEND THE CONSERVATORY?

Anthony: I used to see my grandfather play when I was a very young kid. Whenever we would go visit him, he would bring out his violin. Very simple songs but he had a very sweet sound. That’s what I remember. I was mesmerized by it. So when I got into the fourth grade, they offered music in the public schools in San Francisco—Paul Revere elementary school. They said who wants to take music lesson and I said "I do". There was a violin in the house that my grandfather gave me.  Now it was a full sized violin but I was a pint sized 8 year old. Tiny then. So when I brought it to class and started struggling with it, they said "You need a smaller violin" So I went a got a ¾ size violin.

So I took it for part of that year. I remember the teacher—he was a trumpet player. I remember him as being strict but a kid would see him as being mean. But now that I am an adult, I think that he was just strict. He was the type who would check our fingers and hands. He would say "Your fingers are really dirty. Go wash your hands. Never play with dirty hands. So one day I lost my music. I figured if he yelled at me for not washing my hands, you can imagine what he was going to do to me for losing my music. So I never went back. I only took it for half the year and then I stopped.

The next year in 5th grade, I got bussed  to Leonard Flint Elementary School. I took it up again. There was also a friend in the class who had transferred there and played the violin the year before. Sam Miranda, who ended up being my best friend throughout the years.  It ended up being like private lessons since we were the only 2 kids in the class. The teacher, Mr.Chessman,  taught me a lot things over the next 2 years. I just started to excel—I started learning so fast. After school, I would go back to my room and play. I was so interested making the big sound.

Rita: WHAT WERE YOUR OTHER EARLY EXPERIENCES WITH  MUSIC? 

 Anthony: They had a summer music workshop offered at Lowell High School. So I went for that and it kind of opened me up to all those other string players.  It was really big back then. The SF symphony was involved and they would come and coach groups of kids. Then they would give a concert and demonstration. 

 That was a heck of an experience. Without that I don’t think I would have pursued as far as I did. I became aware of what going on in music citywide with all the rest of the kids in music. I came in contact with other teachers at all the different levels. I did this for 5-6 years. I got an award in my last year for being there so many years. Someone recognized my talent and recommended me to the Conservatory of Music. That year the conservatory asked me to audition and I got a full scholarship. 

Rita: WHAT TYPE OF MUSIC DO YOU ENJOY?

 Anthony: The earliest music I listened to was from my siblings-- Santana, The Beatles. My mother took us to see the Beatles when they came to Candlestick Park. Other people were Ray Barretto, Tito Puente. I think it all  helped me to avoid being a snob about music. My love of the violin has kept me playing classical music. My main interest was playing in string quartets. This is the richest body of music –Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, Hyden. I love playing salsa and it is rich body of music but all those different things influenced me.

Rita: WHAT DID YOU DO AFTER THE SF CONSERVATORY OF MUSIC?

Anthony: I went to Manhattan School of Music from 1984-1988 and got my bachelor's degree there. I studied with some of the premier teachers in the world. I came back here and got a master’s degree at the Conservatory in the quartet program. This was a special program that was strictly focused on chamber music, particularly quartet program. String quartet is a unique style of playing. When I went into the program, that’s how I wanted to make my living playing chamber music—quartet music in particular.

Most people that hear me with the band (Charanson) have no idea what I can do on the classical side. They know that I can play the violin and they say you must have studied classical because your technique is really sound. But violinists know that I really play classical music.  I played with the San Francisco Opera for a few seasons. I played what they call the "freeway Philharmonic"—I make living playing with the Fresno symphony, Marin symphony—any orchestra that you can get into and you drive from town to town. When I went to Europe I played in symphonies and I moved to Portugal for 3 years and played with a chamber orchestra there.

Rita: YOU ALSO PLAYED WITH CHARANGA BANDS IN NEW YORK?

Anthony: Orchestra Broadway, Charanga 76, Tipica Noel, Jose Fajardo, Tipica 73, Charanga Sensual. You name it, I’ve played with them all. But my main band was Charanga America and Charanga 76. I learned a lot from that experience. Four years in New York.

Rita:WHAT HAPPENED WHEN YOU CAME  BACK TO THE BAY AREA?

 

Anthony: There was only one Charanga band in the Bay Area—Ritmo Y Harmonia. Roberto Borrell was the leader, Tregar was on  violin and Fito was the lead singer. That summer  of 1995 I put Charanson  together and in October our first gig was at El Rio. Now we’re in the process of recording our first CD.

 

Photo by rita@salsacrazy

Charanson serenading the crowd at Jelly's

Rita: HOW DOES JIMMY BOSCH FIT INTO THIS PICTURE?

Anthony: I first met Jimmy in New York in 1980 while he was playing with Ray Barretto and Manny Oquendo and Libre. We met again while  I  was playing with Batachanga. It was a legendary SF band lead by Mike Madrigal with John Santos, John Calloway and  Rebecca Mauleon---. Orestes Vilato coined the name — from the "bata" sacred drums and charanga.

Batachanga was playing at Studio 80 in Palo Alto and they brought out a charanga band from NY. Jimmy Bosch was playing with them--He was an incredible player. We were making a recording the next day . So I told John Santos that we had to get Jimmy to do some solos for the recording. So he stayed over at my house and he is on Batachanga’s first recording. You got to hear it . It’s out print—there’s no CDs it is just on vinyl. A really stellar recording

 

Rita: WHAT IS SPECIAL ABOUT HIS PLAYING?

Anthony: His sound is very much "on the edge". It is what I feel the essence of the music should be. It hits you right in the gut. Hard core Salsa. 

Photo by Peter Maiden

Jimmy Bosch boldly playing at Roccapulco's

 Though there are a lot of subtleties to his music, it has this "street edge" to it. His phrasing, his rhythmic drive is unequalled by any other trombone player that I have heard. Barry Rogers—Willie Colon had that same type of sound—raw trombone sound. That’s what I hear in the music and that’s what I want to hear in my band.

Rita: WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN AT THE UPCOMING CONCERTS?

Anthony: I would play anywhere with Jimmy. But something special is going to erupt at the concert. Now he is playing with Marc Anthony— so he’s way up there. What he’s going to bring to the stage is  all the live energy that no one else has. No one else who I’ve ever seen plays the trombone like Johnny. Over the years I have heard him play I have always admired him. I heard him solo in front of these other charanga bands like Baretto, Libre—where he can lay back and play his own style it’s great. That what he’s going to bring to my band. He is going to show up AND PLAY. He’s on our upcoming CD and pretty soon we will start playing the music over airwaves and people get hear how he sounds with us.

Rita: TELL US ABOUT THE CONCERT ON  SUNDAY AT HORACE MANN MIDDLE SCHOOL.

Anthony: Horace Mann is the school where I just started working as an orchestra teacher in September. Needless to say there are few resources for music in the public schools.  The State funds are not designed to pay for instruments. The money they allot to you is so small. I got $1500 for this year. Do you what a Bass costs?  $1000. When I first went to the school and there were 2 violins for 60 students.  How do you get money—car washs, selling candy. That’s how teachers do this stuff. My first fund raiser with Charanson  raised enough so that I bought 17 violins. So this time we decided to get a guest artist like Jimmy, hook up with Cocomo , get a  DJ and—Get some media attention.

People are going to come to Cocomo for the first show and want to hear more .

  You can’t get enough of Jimmy Bosch.

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Come out and see the electrifying Jimmy Bosch and Charanson!

May 12 at Cafe Cocomo
May 13 at Horace Mann Middle School, San Francisco, 3351 23rd St. San Francisco 415-695-5881

Mother's Day show on Sunday May 13  from 3-7 PM. This is a benefit for the  Horace Middle School Music Program

Donation: $12 in advance, $15 at the door.  Family rates available.  Tickets on sale at: 

Discolandia, 2964 24th St. 415-826-9446

Julio's Music, 2884 Mission St. at 25th 415-648-1054

        


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