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Direct from Cuba, Septeto Nacional makes debut at Lehman

DEARDRA SHULER | 1/15/2016, 4:15 p.m.
Music genius Ignacio Pineiro formed Septeto Nacional in 1927 in Central Havana.
SEPTEO

Music genius Ignacio Pineiro formed Septeto Nacional in 1927 in Central Havana. He was known for “Echale Salsita,” a recording wherein he put his trumpets in front and added it to percussion, vocals and strings to feature songs with ever-changing counter melody. The “Echale Salsita” recording ended up coining American-style son that became popular in New York in the 1960s and 1970s. The wildly prolific Cuban bassist and composer known as “El Poeta del Son” (“The Poet of Son”), Ignacio Pineiro Martinez passed in 1969. Since then, the group has seen an array of Cuban musical superstars pass through its ranks, including Carlos Embale, Bienvenido Granda, Abelardo Barroso and Miguelito Valdes.

Presently, Eugenio “Raspa” Rodríguez and Francisco “El Matador” Oropesa carry Pineiro’s musical torch as leaders of the group. They continue with the original son and rumba sound while also incorporating elements of contemporary harmonization, wider rhythmic concepts and an exceptional repertoire that includes the most important Cuban hits, some written by Pineiro himself. Septeto Nacional de Cuba Ignacio Pineiro and Orquesta Broadway will be appearing on the Lehman Center for the Performing Arts stage in the Bronx Saturday, Jan. 16 at 8 p.m.

The group is credited with expanding the son musical style before Arsenio Rodriquez. In 1929, the band played at the World Exposition in Sevilla. The group received a gold medal from the Ibero-American Fair in Seville, Spain, and was named ambassador of Cuban folklore in Europe. In 1933, they performed at the World Exposition in Chicago. That year it was led by cornet player Lazaro Herrera until it disbanded in 1937, coming together for the occasional gig until 1959, when the band was reunited, earning a Grammy in 2004 for its CD “Poetas del Son.”

Cuban son combines elements of Spanish music with African rhythms and percussion. It gained immense popularity around the turn of the 20th century, continuing through the 1940s. Pineiro wrote hundreds of sones for the sextet, which soon became a septet with the addition of cornet player Lazaro Herrera. When George Gershwin traveled to Cuba in 1932 and heard the music of Septeto Nacional, he befriended Pineiro, whose song “Echale Salsita” (“Put a Little Sauce On It”) can be heard as an influence in Gershwin’s “Cuban Overture.” In the 1930s, Pineiro wrote many songs that have become Latin classics, including “Esas no Son Cubanas” and “Suavecito,” which, with their unique poetic lyrics and distinctive musical style, laid a foundation for the music now known as salsa. The well renowned and always-in-demand New York-based Orquesta Broadway is celebrating more than 50 years as one of the most popular charanga bands.

Ticket purchasers can also take advantage of a pre-sale offer when they purchase their tickets at the Lehman Center box office, wherein ticket buyers who purchase their tickets at the box office will be given a DVD of the Septeto Nacional Ignacio Pineiro filmed at the Basilica of the convent of San Francisco of Assisi, which is located in the historic center of Havana and one of the most prestigious musical stages of Cuba.

Lehman Center for the Performing Arts, located at 250 Bedford Park Blvd. West, Bronx, N.Y., is proud to present the legendary Septeto Nacional de Cuba Ignacio Pineiro and Orquesta Broadway to the Bronx audiences and are offering tickets at $60, $55 and $45. Tickets can also be purchased by calling the Lehman Center box office at 718-960-8833 or online at www.lehmancenter.org. Parking is available for $5.