ORQUESTA BROADWAY – 10.11.2018
Orquesta Broadway is a charanga style band founded by flautist Eddy Zervigón and his brothers Kelvin (piano) and Rudy (violin) in New York City in 1962. The band’s name was adopted after being suggested by Catalino Rolón, at the time the booking agent for the Palladium Ballroom, the locale where the band made its debut and official entrance into the city’s busy Latin music arena. A few years later, the band would play the final show on the closing day of the world famous ballroom.
The popular Orquesta Broadway doubtlessly has stood the test of time to become not only one of the few New York’s surviving charangas, but the longest running charanga band outside of the island of Cuba. Fifty years plus after its creation and despite changing music styles, the always-in-demand Orquesta Broadway continues to enjoy an enviable position at the forefront of Latin music in the country.
While Orquesta Broadway’s 40th Anniversary album was nominated for the Latin Grammy Award® in 2003, the band had made its recording debut for the Gema label in 1963 on an LP entitled ‘Dengue’, that included ‘Como camina María,’ the band’s first radio hit. The following albums solidified their popularity as one of New York’s top bands and catapulted the aggregation onto the international scene. As a result, the band traveled for the first time outside the US to Caracas, Venezuela in 1967. Visits to several countries in Africa, Europe and Latin America followed soon after.
In 1973, the band performed in Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal as well as in France and Holland, whereas in Cali, Colombia, in 1982, during the celebration of Cali’s ‘XXV Feria de la Caña de Azúcar,’ Orquesta Broadway was proclaimed ‘La mejor de la Feria’ (Best of the Fair).
Despite their busy local schedule, the band continues to tour abroad bringing the exciting sounds of Afro Cuban music to the ears of discriminating dancers all over the world. In November 12, 2011, Orquesta Broadway performed at the annual World Athletics Gala of The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) at the Salle des Etoiles of the Sporting Club d’Eté in the Principality of Monaco–thus becoming the second Latin band, after Cuba’s Orquesta Aragón in 2007, to be chosen to play at such a prestigious affair. Coincidentally, almost three years later, in September 2014, New York’s Orquesta Broadway and Cuba’s Orquesta Aragon were featured jointly as main attraction at Festival International Medejazz, a jazz and world music festival in Medellin, Colombia.
On June 30, 2012, the world famous Lincoln Center hosted the band’s 50th Anniversary Celebration Concert. For the occasion, the Council of the City of New York honored the members of Orquesta Broadway with a proclamation in recognition of their “extraordinary achievements in—and contributions to—music.” Conversely, the honorable Carlos Hernandez, mayor of Hialeah, Florida, presented Orquesta Broadway with a proclamation declaring July 21, 2013 as ‘Orquesta Broadway’s Day.’
In February 2013, Orquesta Broadway was the overall winner of the ‘Congo de Oro’, a coveted prize awarded to the best participating orchestra in the International Carnival in Barranquilla, Colombia. The award was just one more on the long list of accolades garnered by the group in recognition of its high professionalism, excellent performance quality and great popularity. At the end of the year, on December 14, the band appeared at the World Festival of Black Arts in Dakar, Senegal—a festival featuring architecture, poetry, cinema, dance, design, fashion, painting, sculpture, theatre and music by artists and performers from around the African Diaspora.
On July 25, 2014, Orquesta Broadway participated in Tempo Latino, an annual Latin music festival in Vic-Fezensac, France and last year, on December 11, 2015, the orchestra became the first Latin music act invited to participate in ‘¡Vaya! 63,’ a series of events celebrating Latin culture in New York City at Lincoln Center’s David Rubinstein Atrium.
Eddy Zervigón. Flautist, musical director, leader, and founder of Orquesta Broadway plays a five-key wooden flute usually referred to as the ‘French flute’ instead of the more modern andfrequently used Boehm system flute. Mr. Zervigón was born in Güines, a small Cuban town located nearly 30 miles southeast of Havana. In 1962, he and his brothers left Cuba for Miami where they spent a few months before finally coming to New York. After arriving in the city, Mr. Zervigón worked with the bands of Lou Pérez, Johnny Pacheco, Alfredo Valdés Sr. and Arsenio Rodríguez before founding Orquesta Broadway. His flute work has been featured in countless studio recordings by a very diverse group of artists.
Los Van Van has consistently managed to adapt its unique style to the times, and remains, after years, Cuba’s most popular dance band. Along with pianist Cesar “Pupy” Pedroso, Juan Formell has written some of the most intriguing verses in popular dance music, including stories that run over several albums and, contrary to trends in timba, all types of social commentary. Both artists are undisputed masters of double-entendre in a musical culture where multiple meanings in lyrics are pervasive. The true achievement of Los Van is that they take something very complicated -namely, sophisticated lyrics, eclectic instrumentation and multi-layered percussion- and they make it all seem very simple. They have invented a sound undeniably their own. Long before “fusion” became the catch-all label for Cuban musicians attempting to break the mould, Los Van Van set sail for new musical shores and never looked back.
For the past four decades Los Van Van have been showing the world that Cuban music is alive and well and very, very danceable. With the crowd response on their most recent tours as fresh evidence, that mission has been a resounding success.
The band has a Grammy Award to their credit, the 2000 Latin Grammy awarded to the album Van Van is Here (‘Llegó Van Van’).