No frowns allowed in Palo!
Rubén Abruña


Though this local Afro-Cuban ensemble doesn't have much recorded history to make for much copy, one look at the names on the group's roster shows the music is pretty serious. Among the notable members is Venezuelan-born saxophonist Ed Calle, who boasts a long history both as a leader and a sideman with the likes of Negroni's Trio, Arturo Sandoval, Frank Sinatra, Vanessa Williams, and countless others. In addition to his work with Palo!, he also leads the Fuego Caliente Latin Jazz Orchestra. And if that isn't enough to keep him out of trouble, he also is associate professor of music business and production at Miami Dade College.

Then there's musical director, instrumentalist, and vocalist Steve Roitstein, who has performed alongside Tito Puente, Jaco Pastorius, Julio Iglesias, and others, ultimately winning a Latin Grammy in 2001 for his arranging work with the late, great Celia Cruz. Rounding out the band are Cuban-born percussionist Phil Armenteros (who was the focus of a Homeland Security imbroglio a few years back), young Cuban vocalist/pianist Leslie Cartaya, and conguero Raymer Olalde. The sound they make is a mixture of different genres, including funk, jazz, hip-hop, rock, and of course the sonidos of Latin America and the Caribbean.


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