Born in New Jersey to Cuban parents and raised in the very Cuban cities of Union City and West New York, at the age of 3, I began to play a guitar along my father and uncle, who on a monthly basis performed in what was known as “El Guateque Campesino.” This monthly event brought together numerous poets, guitarrists, laudists and tres players who would get together at different clubs and lodges and offer their inspirational music before predominantly Cuban audiences. The music that was performed is called Punto Guajiro, Cuba's country music. At age 4 I began studying classical European music for eleven years. Growing up amidst a musical family that was steeped in traditional Cuban music. These influences combined became the inspirational foundation to learn and enjoy our traditional music "Son Montuno", among other rhythms, lyrics and orchestrations. My mother and father, Juana Torres & Leonel Ortega Sr., both play guitar and sing (songs and improvisational), my grandmother Maria Torres would compose poetry and lyrics, my uncle Sergio Sori, a singer who plays laud, tres, and guitar is an exceptional writer. My aunt Maria Sori is also a poet and inspirational singer, known throughout Cuban radio as “La Londra de San Jose” (50s and early 60s). When I came up with the idea to record, I called upon my uncle Sergio's geniosity resulting in the creation of exceptional lyrics for 2 selections on the CD, Guajiro soy and the title track “Recordando A Cuba." Still today I continue to call upon my uncle Sergio and my father Leonel to help me out with lyrics. Their ingenuity is incredible. Finally, my brother Raul was also a musician - a talented trumpeter who from age 16 – 21 performed with high school and local Cuban Dance bands. Cubanoson's CD - Recordando A Cuba, is dedicated in his memory.

At age 15, I played my first official gig on a 12-string guitar with Omar DeJunco's band called Havana Brass then later named Casino International at St. Augustine’s Church hall in Union City. A few months later I became the pianist for the band; the first gig being a New Year's Eve party in Connecticut alongside bassist Leopoldo Fleming, continuing with this band for about 3 years. I then began playing with Jose "Voltaire" Gutierrez' merengue band “Conjunto Quisqueyano” alongside bassist Jose "Pepe" Franca for several years. In 1983 I met Chico Alvarez in another band called Zafra, and he invited me to record on an album he was recording titled Orquesta Riverside. This was great, I played piano on a couple of songs, recorded violins on a synthesizer and sang background vocals. Coincidentally, the bassist for the Riverside recording and Cubanoson's recordings was bassist Willie Cintron, who after so many years, has worked as a bassist for Cubanoson numerous times. Since then I continued public performances with several groups: Palomonte, Mafimba, Fajardo y Sus Estrellas (with the legendary Jose Fajardo), Charanga Kreacion, Los Hermanos Morenos, Raul Azpiazu, Angelo y el Conjunto Modelo, Orquesta Metropolitana, and the Kenny Gross Orchestras. Throughout the years, I have had the privelege of performing alongside or accompanying several great singers/musicians throughout my career performing in bands and as a soloist in local Clubs; such as Roberto Rodriguez, Candido Camero, La India de Oriente, Chivirico Davila, Chihuahua Martinez, Junior Rivera, Ray Vega, Lionel Sanchez, and the greatest privelege of all of having Jose Fajardo play with me several times with a sextet called Papo y el Grupo Siboney, that existed in the mid to late 90s that I had put together. Other notable experiences include having Johhny Pacheco sit in with Siboney to play Cachita a few years ago. In the latter part of 2005, I decided to put together this orchestra to feature Cuban music, and Cubanoson was born. I have been blessed to have great musicians who backed me on my endeavors like Roberto Rodriguez, Junior Rivera. Willie Cintron and Oscar Oñoz. Already great things have happened, Cubanoson's debut CD - Recordando A Cuba has been released, received great reviews, airplay and sales. In June of 2006
at one of Cubanoson’s performances I had the honor and privelege of having my orchestra accompany two living legends – Joseito Mateo and Israel "Cachao" Lopez the father of all bassists. 2007 brings great things. In 2007, our debut CD was ranked # 1 in England, Italy, Germany and Salsa Picante Radio. Other notable rankings include top 15 in Toronto and # 3 for the New York Area by Latin Beat Magazine's Vicki Sola. Finally, our CD made it to the final list for the 2007 Latin Grammy's in 12 Categories. We have performed yearly at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, since 2005 and will be there again celebrating our 6th anniversary October of 2011. Westchester's Emelin Theatre numerous festivals, and private events. Papo has also been cast on several short films!

Following the success of "Recordando A Cuba," On April 1st, 2010 we released our second CD "Rumba Nueva." we hope everyone enjoys this CD even more than the 1st one. Rumba Nueva made it to the 2010 Latin Grammy's Final Entry List in 9 categories, and as per Latin Beat Magazine one of the top 10 CDs in New York and California. We continue to perform publicly - notable appearances Giants Stadium and the International Fifi awards in NYC. We hope to expand our geographic performances to Europe and Canada soon.

We hope you enjoy our music and look forward to making your next event an even better one.

Papo Ortega

 
 

Cubanoson's Current Orchestra Members

Leonel "Papo" Ortega - Leader, Pianist,
- Lead Vocals
Roberto Rodriguez-Lead Trumpet &
Musical Director
Junior Rivera - Tres Guitar
Orlando "Niño" Espinosa - Vocals
Jaime Figueroa - Percussion/Vocals
Carlos Padron - Percussion
Guido Gonzalez - Trumpet
Leonardo Freire - Trombone
Ruben Rodriguez - Bass
Rosa M. Ortega- Stage Manager/Site Coordinator

Arrangers

Leonel "Papo" Ortega
Manolo Albo
Silvio Cebrian
Omar A. Castaños
Louie Cruz
Rey Roig
Javier Vasquez

Music Copyist
Omar A. Castaños

Webmaster
Jimmy Rodriguez

Photography

Ed Castañeda
Rosa M. Ortega
Albert Areizaga
Orlando Espinosa
Carlos Maitin
Lucio Fernandez
Manny Maldonado
Carmen Valdes
Allen Spatz

Staff Assistants

Carlos Maitin
Sergio Romero
Vinny
Bertin
Gilberto Leon
Alex Lorenzo



 

   

Cubanoson Substitute Orchestra Members

Luisito Quintero - Percussion
Willie Romero - Percussion
Larry Figueredo - Percussion
David Figueredo - Percussion
Roberto Quintero - Percussion
Ernie Acevedo - Percussion
Carlos Garcia - Percussion
Tomas Martin Lopez - Percussion
Ralph Cote - Percussion
Luis "Campana" Hernandez - Percussion
Gene Golden - Percussion
Eloy Oliveros - Percussion
David Figueredo (Age 6 1st gig)
Manuel Marquez - Percussion
Eddie "Primo" Perez - Vocals
Ronnie Baro - Vocals
Hiram Remon - Vocals
Ray Rivera - Vocals
Raymond Marcel - Vocals
Ernest Alvarez - Vocals
John Walsh - Trumpet
Samuel Barreto - Trumpet
Chris Sanchez - Trumpet
Anibal Martinez - Trumpet
Doenyn Dominguez - Trumpet
Oscar Oñoz - Trumpet
Willie Olenick - Trumpet
Lionel Sanchez - Trumpet
Victor Roque Jr. - Trumpet
Luisito Rodriguez - Tres Guitar
Yuniel Jimenez - Tres Guitar
Jacob Plasse - Tres Guitar
Dave Miller - Trombone
Noah Bless - Trombone
Khadafy Kahn - Trombone
Barry Olsen- Trombone
Eddy Venegas - Trombone
Raul Navarrete - Trombone
Alexis Llerena - Trombone
Jerry Madera - Bass
Carlos Velazquez - Bass
Danny Rosado - Bass
Maximo Rodriguez - Bass
Abraham Saenz - Bass
Willie Cintron - Bass
Jose M. Rodriguez - Bass

Poster Design and Web Marketing

Ed Castañeda www.havananewyork.com poster designs and web marketing. Rumba Nueva, Cubanoson DVD and Historia De Un Amor covers.
Albert Areizaga - Recordando A Cuba design.
Lucio Fernandez Cover and production of Cubanoson: The Story DVD documentary.


Sound Engineer

Ray Machado
Jaime Cruz


       
 
   
   
   
         
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