8 , 2005
year at Jazzfest - 3 NEWCOMERS WHO SHINED
Peyroux: It took a lot of gall for this 32-year-old New
Yorker to sing her soft, Ella/Billie-style ballads before
an overflowing crowd full of purists in the Economy Hall traditional-jazz
tent, but it took genuine talent to keep them all captivated.
Only the hippies seemed to realize "You're Gonna Make
Me Lonesome When You Go" is a Dylan song and not an old
Dopsie & Zydeco Hellraisers: This son of the great
Rockin' Dopsie is no pup, but his rowdy, gritty swamp-rock
set came off like a best-in-show performance.
The Afro-Cuban jazz-rock ensemble offered deeper proof of
New Orleans' rich musical heritage.
FRIDAY, APRIL 29, 2005
of the FEST - Hot Picks at the Fair Grounds this weekend
Keith Spera, Music writer
- Sun., 1:35-2:25
Louisiana Live Lagniappe Stage
the excellent 2004 CD "Todo Pa'La Gente," Otra orchestrates
Afro-Cuban jazz grooves that seem timeless, but are of recent
vintage. A mutually beneficial alliance of modern jazz musicians
and veteran Cuban percussionists, Otra jumps off from the
usual cha-cha-cha, mambo, rumba and boogaloo rhythms for melodic,
The Best Sounds Around - Top 15 Louisiana Albums of 2004
Keith Spera, Music writer
“Todo Pa’La Gente," Otra orchestrates Afro-Cuban
jazz and grooves that seem timeless, but are of recent vintage.
A mutually beneficial alliance of modern jazz musicians and
veteran Cuban percussionists Humberto “Pupi” Menes
on congas and Cristobal “El Canyon” Cruzado on
timbales, Otra is not content to recycle standards and the
usual cha cha cha, mambo, rumba, and boogaloo rhythms. Instead,
those rhythms are jumping off points for jazzier excursions
written and/or arranged by pianist Rob Block and bassist Sam
Price, brought to melodic and harmonic fruition by trumpeter
Eric Lucero and saxophonist Brent Rose. In their capable hands,
the jazz standard “Nature Boy” is reimagined south
of the border, and the harmonies and hand-claps of the traditional
“Ebioso” clear the way for the horns and percussion
to bore deeper. Even in such refined contexts, the traditional
rhythms are very much intact and very conductive to dancing.
ORLEANS CITY LIFE
The Other Latin Beat
night grows deep as the band Otra hits the stage. The drummers
lock into a brisk percolating rhythm oozing with the essence
of Afro-Cuban music. Amplified tones from an upright bass
enrich the sound, and electric piano begins to plink with
rolling precision. Conversations slowly die down as people
are drawn to the warm energy coming from the stage. The trumpet
and saxophone are being played rapidly, arching lines that
weave in and out of each other. Otra is officially operating
at full power, and as the sound washes over the crowd, a gaggle
of frantic dancers struggle to keep the pace with the music.
is the brainchild of bassist Sam Price, who developed the
concept in the summer of 2002. “Otra, of course, means
‘other,’ and I wanted this band to be filled with
fresh, great players out of nowhere, outside of the usual
Latin scene. I also wanted to merge jazz concepts with the
Latin beat and dig deeper into the African roots of Afro-Cuban
music,” says Price. Price couldn’t have had better
timing from this project because a “great player out
of nowhere” showed up in New Orleans in the spring of
2002. Keyboardist Rob Block moved to town from St. Louis with
a pedigree as thick as his original songbook. Block, a guitarist,
had been teaching in the music department at Webster University
in St. Louis and playing gigs with organ master Charles Earland.
Soon after arriving in New Orleans, Block discovered he shared
a musical kinship with Price and was sold on the Otra idea.
“With Otra, I like to combine the roots of Cuban music
with the improv style of modern jazz. The rhythmic style I
play in this band is known as the ‘montuno.’ It
is a way to play repetitive yet intriguing patterns.”
remainder of article
PA'LA GENTE - Otra - Independent - 2004 4 PEPPERS!!!!
Review By Paule Pachter
New Orleans based latin, jazz, dance band OTRA hasn’t
been on the local music scene for long, but they are kicking
up a storm in terms of their unique, driving rhythms. One
doesn’t usually equate New Orleans or Louisiana as a
prime breeding ground for great latin music. We often look
toward Miami or New York for great latin salsa, jazz or cubano
sounds. Well, look no more because the Crescent City tienes
una gema toda la sus el propios con Otra.
Pa’La Gente (loosely translated ‘all people’)
is todo exciting. The CD is rich in its latin rhythms complete
with pounding congas, crisp horns, and authoritative timbales.
With only nine tracks featured and an average running time
of seven minutes per track the CD delivers in terms of making
you feel good. Sitting down the music makes you tap your feet
and pump your shoulders. Standing up it makes you want to
cha cha. Among the tracks that impressed me the most were:
“Con Otra New Orleans;” “Candela;”
“Mid-City Mambo;” and “Nature Boy.”
músicos extremadamente talentosos en Otra incluyen
Eric Lucero (trumpet); Brent rose (saxophone); Rob Block (piano),
guitar, organ); Sam Price (baby bass); Humberto ‘Pupi’
Menes (congas, chekere) and Cristobal Cruzado (timbales).
Pa’La Gente is a great piece of work from a great New
Orleans band, which earns a four-pepper rating from us. Put
this one in the boom box and mambo down Canal Street. Usted
puede comprar este CD directamente en línea from Otra’s
official website at: www.otramusic.com.
- Todo Pa’la Gente (Independent)
bands are multiplying exponentially of late. That doesn’t
mean any of them are any good. Throwing a conga player in
the mix and faking one’s way through a cha cha cha does
not quite fit the bill. Amidst this sea of half-assed fumbling
imitators comes the refreshingly ambitious sextet Otra.
debut release Todo Pa’la Gente is brimming with not
only the essential boogaloo rythms, but with impressively
complex melodies. It’s the compositional and melodic
element that is what is lacking in most neo-Latin jazz ensembles,
and it is where Otra separates itself from the pack. Not content
to take the easy way out with Tito Puente and Buena Vista
Social Club covers, Otra finds inspiration in their own creations.
The album’s opener “Con Otra In New Orleans”
exemplifies the band’s compositional fortitude. Beginning
with a percussion/chant intro, the band slowly folds in Rob
Block’s piano until finally exploding into a soaring
horn-blasting chorus. Block is actually responsible for four
of the record’s nine tracks, and each one delivers in
spades. “Candela” (not to be confused with the
Buena Vista Social Club tune of the same name) is an album
highlight with its lyrical, weaving melody, as is the dance
floor beckoning sway of “Baila Mi Son”. The playing
throughout is first-rate, starting with the relentless rhythmic
attack of conga player Pupi Menes and Cristobal Cruzado’s
timbales. The mingling of Eric Lucero’s trumpet and
Brent Rose’s saxophone is seamless while bassist and
leader Sam Price holds down a steady but intriguing bottom.
Other album highlights include the Latin jazz makeover of
the jazz standard “Nature Boy” and the hand-clap
breaks and snaky horn solos of the orisha-inspires “Ebioso”.
Unlike many other “Latin” jazz dance bands, Otra
brings a passion and dedication to the ever-expanding genre.
Simply put, they just get it.
- Todo Pa' La Gente
band is all about high-octane, full-throttle, positive energy
musical explorations. The Afro-Cuban/Latin jazz hybrid created
by Otra has made them a favorite on the Frenchmen Street club
scene, and Todo Pa’la Gente does a remarkable job of
harnessing the band’s live energy into a recording that
can be enjoyed in one’s living room. In fact, this reviewer
would even be so bold as to declare this album as an essential
inclusion in any and all future house parties. What makes
Otra special is their ability to play as one and subvert all
ego – Otra music is a finely concocted blend of timbales,
congas, bass, percussive piano lines and trumpet and sax leads
that weave in and out of each other like the fabric of a finely
stitched Oaxacan shirt. Tunes like “Mid-City”
and “Loisaida” are utterly infectious and original
while they pay homage to influences like Eddie Palmieri and
Jerry Gonzales and the Ft. Apache Band. Even if you don’t
know a damn thing about this genre of music, this album is
worth checking out and should make an otherworldly improvement
to your music collection.
WEEKLY - CD REVIEWS
- Todo Pa' La Gente (Independent)
(Times-Picayune), June 4, 2004
music Bassists Andrew Wolf, left, and Sam Price lead
Los Vecinos and Otra, respectively, two local ensembles at
the vanguard of a revitalized Latin music scene. Within the
progressive-minded Otra, Price and a band that features saxophone,
trumpet, piano, bass and percussion use traditional Cuban
rhythms – cha cha cha, mambo, rumba, boogaloo –
as a jumping-off point for jazzier explorations, as evidenced
on Otra’s new debut CD, “Todo Pa’la Gente.”
“We’re not reinventing the wheel – Latin
jazz has been around since the 1940s,” Price says. “But
we like to think that we put our own spin on it.” “But
we like to think that we put our own spin on it.” Wolf’s
Los Vecinos adheres more closely to the tenets of traditional
folkloric Cuban music on a program of standards and some originals.
Melodic and rhythmic instruments – acoustic bass, two
acoustic guitars, a flute, two saxophones and percussion –
interlock in tight arrangements overlaid with Spanish vocals
on Los Vecinos’ 2002 release “P’aqui, P’alla.”
The music of both Otra and Los Vecinos is highly conducive
Grupo “Otra” Presenta Su CD
centro nocurno “BLUE NILE” en 534 Frenchmen Street,
en New Orleans, tuvo el honor de presenter al grupo “OTRA”,
los que en un ambiente de mucho baile y alegria y en un centro
nocturno completamente lleno, presentaron su primer CD, “TODO
PA’LA GENTE”. El show tuvo a la gente bailando
hasta altas horas de la madrugada y los invitados tuvieron
el placer de compartir un delicioso plato de arroz con pollo
y frijoles guisados que estuvo muy delicioso.
banda esta integrada por los musicos siguientes: Director,
compositor, arreglos y bajo, Sr. Sam Price (U. S. A.), compositor,
arreglos y pianista, Sr. Robert Block (U. S. A.), saxofon
y flauta, Sr. Brent Rose (U. S. A.) trompeta, Eric Lucero
(Mexico Americano), timbales, Sr. Cristobal Cruzado (Colombia),
y Tumbadoras, Sr. Humberto (Pupi) Menes (Cuba).
invitados comenzaron a llegar a la fiesta de presentacion
como a las 10:30 y las 11:30 el lugar estaba totalmente abarrotado.
Los presentes motivados por la musica caliente de “OTRA”
bailaron sin parar durante la presentacion del grupo. El centro
nocturno en esa noche conto con la presencia de una gran variedad
de personajes del norte y sur America.
al CD presentado esa noche por el Grupo “OTRA”
puedo decirles que se trata de un disco en el que se manifiestan
los ritmos tropicales del Caribe con un legeitimo sabor afro-cubano
que en conjunto con la influencia del Jazz americano nos introducen
en un mundo musical de salsa en Jazz muy dificil de escuchar
sin sentir el deseo de bailar. Esta obra musical es el resultado
de la composicion y arreglos proprios de la banda. El disco
es una pieza digna de poseer.
was packed on Thursday night as revelers shouted and danced
in appreciation of local spacey Afro-Cuban jazz band Otra.
Otra translates to "other" in Spanish.
delicious rhythms and percussive hooks, Latin music made a
concert feel like a street party. The local sextet gave the
people what they wanted, but they also experimented often
and pushed the boundaries of what jazz music should be, a
la Miles Davis and Bitches Brew. The band was inventive with
tempo changes, and they were able to stuff numerous melodies
into one song. The band was saxophonist Brent Rose, bassist
Sam Price, pianist Rob Block, trumpeter Eric Lucero, Cristobal
Cruzado on timbales and Humberto Menes on tumbadora, bongo,
band was not afraid to get weird: the saxophone dreamily floated
in and out of a song and the synthesizer spouted feedback
fuzz. A light Caribbean tone is much more common from the
piano. The group stuck to original sexy mid-tempo numbers
that sweated soul. The band, which was well-rehearsed, was
mainly instrumental, but their thematic chants added to the
party atmosphere. Song after song, Rose wailed away as the
band got louder, while trumpeter Eric Lucero kept the base
The backbone of the band was Cruzado. He was an unassuming
man offstage, but he was a polyrhythmic Tasmanian devil during
his extended percussive solo. His fills and style have been
stolen by modern day rock drummers. Just as energetic onstage
was Rose, who blew so much he became breathless. He was rewarded
by a wallop of applause.
band was very cognizant of their surroundings. When a member
was smoking, the band rose up and played better. The audience
bolstered them in the same way.
band tried to bring a New Orleans backyard feel to d.b.a.,
but the touristy and stuffy New York atmosphere of the place
always stifled the attempt. The only other thing that killed
the party atmosphere was when the band came around with the
tip jar (It almost felt like extortion. I will walk up and
drop money if I have enjoyed the music, but don’t try
and make me feel bad if you’re not gonna charge a cover).
in all, it was a very fun night. Lucero and Rose are traveling
to Switzerland for a few months, so let’s hope the other
members can keep up the spirit of the band until they return.
OCTOBER 10, 2003
Otra's Latin sound aims to be 'a little grittier, earthier and
Keith Spera, Music Writer
a student at Slidell High School in the 1980's, bassist Sam
Price pledged his allegiance to hard rock. Black Sabbath,
Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and Kiss made up the bulk of his
he and classmate Todd Duke, a guitarist with similar tastes,
discovered community jazz and roots-music radio station WWOZ-FM,
and everything changed. So enamored were Price and Duke with
WWOZ that they embarked on a pilgrimage across Lake Pontchartrain
one night to find the station in Armstrong Park.
ears were blown open," Price said recently. "Our
whole world expanded just by listening to the great deejays
discovery of WWOZ triggered a musical conversion from hard
rock to jazz and, eventually, Latin music. The process culminated
last year when he founded Otra, an "Afro-Cuban jazz and
groove" band staffed with both jazz and Latin musicians.
They included veteran percussionists Humberto "Pupi"
Memes and Cristobal "El Canyon" Cruzado, plus jazz
saxophonist Brent Rose, trumpeter Eric Lucero and keyboardist
Rob Block. Otra performs Saturday at Cafe Brasil, makes its
Snug Harbor debut on Sunday, then joins Almas Gemelas and
Avatar for a Mo' Tunes showcase at the Howlin' Wolf on Wednesday.
remainder of article
2003 - JAZZ FEST EDITION
12:20pm, Lagniappe Stage, Latin/Contemporary Jazz
started making a splash on the New Orleans music scene in 2002
with it's blend of Afro-Cuban Jazz and grooves, a perfect fit
for gigs at hopping Frenchmen Street outposts such as the Blue
Nile. Led by bassist Sam Price, the band can hit on mambo,cha-cha-cha
and boogaloo and also features a full horn section and the deft
rhythms of veteran percussionist Pupi Menes.
ORLEANS BEAT STREET MAGAZINE
2003 - JAZZ FEST EDITION
'Picks and Pans' : Otra - L.S. 12:20-1:10
brainchild of bassist Sam Price, these guys throw down New Orleans-style
Latin jazz with aplomb. Their saxophonist, Brent Rose, is vying
for the most paychecks collected from the festival this year
- he plays 3 times today.
Orleans has seen the sprouting of many different Latin bands,
each with its own unique sound, and bass player Sam Price has
played with the likes of Latin mainstays such as Fredy Omar.
Now Price is leading his very own Afro-Cuban Jazz and
Grooves group called Otra. Drawing upon an array of different
periods and styles of Latin music, such as mambo, cha-cha-cha,
and boogaloo, Otra plays standards from the Latin and Cuban
songbooks for a unique sound of their own. This is also your
change to see Otra members and jazz saxophonist Brent Rose performing
outside their usual milieu. Also featuring veteran New Orleans
Cuban percussionist Pupi Menez and Rob Block on piano, this
seven-piece orchestra which also includes drums, trumpet and
percussion, will take you on a listening tour of the world of
Latin music every Monday night. No cover.
the newest Latin band on the strip is an Afro-Cuban jazz band,
Otra, which translates in English to “other.” Unlike
many of the Latin bands in New Orleans, Otra looked for fresh
blood when it formed, adopting two newcomers to the city, pianist
Rob Block and timbales player Steve Reichlen. Rounding out the
ensemble are veterans Brent Rose on saxophone, Bob Garrett on
trumpet, and Cuban born percussionist Pupi Menes. Their style
is not confined to one specific rhythm or dance, but is an amalgam
of several. Says Price, “I’m not trying to reproduce
a sound. I try to weave different elements together…I
have a great respect for the history of this music and the variety
of rhythmic styles, which you really do have to learn in order
to internalize them, but I’m not trying to fit any specific
style within the Afro-Cuban genre.” When asked if he considers
it a probleme that there is only one true Latino in a band playing
Latin music, Price acknowledges this disparity saying, “In
recent weeks I have noticed more Latino couples dancing at our
shows, but I’m glad we have a true Cubano in Pupi.”
In fact, while there are several Latino musicians playing in
the various ensembles, most of the bands playing Latin music
on Frenchmen Street are made up of primarily white musicians,
and the audiences for all the shows are also overwhelmingly
Anglo. Does it take away from the authenticity of these “Latin”
bands? Yolanda Estrada doesn’t think so. She champions
bands such as Otra, Los Vecinos and Son Del Pantano regularly
on her weekly radio show. “As long as it’s getting
out there, I don’t care who plays it,” says Estrada.
Concerning the largely white audience patrolling the clubs on
Frenchmen she asserts, “Music is the international language.
You don’t have to understand what they’re saying
to enjoy it.”