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Courtesy registration discount code LPM14 ($425) - Celebrating its 25th Anniversary, he Billboard Latin Music Conference & Awards is the BIGGEST and longest-running event dedicated to Latin music in the world.

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Sunday, 23 February 2014, 08:39 PM

Key Events in Miami, Chicago and New York

Interactivo in Miami, Pedrito Martínez Group and Dos y Más in Chicago, Havana Nagila in New York

Miami: Interactivo in concert, Miami Dade County Auditorium, 29th and Flagler Street, Miami FL, March 8, 9PM

This should be one of the concerts of the year in the United States. Interactivo is one of the most progressive and interesting bands in Cuba today; it combines everytthing from Jazz to Hip Hop to modern Cuban dance music, and the most recent information released adds several members of Habana Abierta to the roster along with Gema Corredera, Mayito Rivera and David Torrens. Telmary is also on the roster. We'll post some video of Interactivo closer to the date, but with the additional stars in the show, there are bound to be some musical surprises as well. 

Tickets can be purchased at
For additional information, see the Fundarte website at

Click continue reading for much more.

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Friday, 21 February 2014, 02:05 AM

Ernesto Oviedo with John Santos

Tom Ehrlich's Gallery

Another amazing Santos/SFJAZZ collaboration, this time with Ernesto Oviedo on vocals. Click here for more great shots.

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Thursday, 20 February 2014, 03:51 PM

The 13th Annual Chicago International Salsa Congress - Mostly NOT Unlucky

Article by Bill Tilford, all rights reserved

So, we are looking at the 13th anniversary of an event that is also starting on the 13th day of the month (fortunately, not a Friday), and this might have sent many persons scrambling for their rabbit's foot or other special charms, but most of the Chicago International Salsa Congress was superb (we'll get to the exceptions a little later).  Click continue reading for more.

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Sunday, 16 February 2014, 06:26 PM

Llegó Mayito Rivera

The 2014 SF Salsa Rueda Festival Continues

Mayito and Timbalive with Yussef Breffe at the 2014 SF Salsa Rueda Festival • photo by Tom Ehrlich

Look - nobody loves Los Van Van more than I do, and like most, I was both sad to hear that Mayito had left the group and uncertain that Mayito Rivera would be able to sustain the iconic gravitas of Mayito Van Van. The solo careers of Lele el padre, Israel Sardiñas, Mayito el Flaco, Ángel Bonne and even Pedrito Calvo will always be overshadowed by their work with Formell, but on the strength of this one performance, Mayito has emphatically cast that monkey off his back. It's now clear that Mayito simply had to leave - he's just too much singer to be relegated to two or three songs a night. 

Mayito captured and hypnotized a huge crowd of dancers and connoisseurs from the first note and relentlessly pushed them higher and higher for an hour and a half of non-stop tour de force inspiration. He was clearly excited and emotional but he maintained complete control, hitting perfectly intoned, full voice high As and above on every song without faltering.

By the second song, the night's opening coro, Llegó Mayito Rivera had taken on a much deeper meaning. This was not going to be merely a nostalgic look back at Mayito Van Van. It was Mayito Rivera, el Poeta de la Rumba, who had arrived - a new artist - now with the space and freedom to fully express himself with cadenzas, rubato intros, rumba and inspiraciones and to aspire on equal turf to the greatness of his idol Beny Moré.

I had seen flashes of Mayito's improvising in Havana, sitting in with Issac and Bamboleo, but this was 90 minutes of sustained in-the-moment brilliance. When he called for a rumba dancer, SF's own Yussef Breffe was busily taking photos with a large unwieldy camera and before he could put it down, Mayito had invented a coro about the non-sequitur of a rumbero con cámara? As soon as Yussef started to break out his prodigious moves, Mayito changed the coro to suelta la cámara! and the coristas, highlighted by the amazing Yezi González, instantly harmonized it while Mayito tossed off one incredible pregón after then next. The whole night was like this, and the euphoria on Yezi's face was telling. She kept looking over at the trombonistas as if to say "can you freaking believe this?" The whole Timbalive band was grinning from ear to ear and responding spontaneously to each unexpected bit of brilliance from Mayito.

Timbalive plays their own set tonight, Sunday, with more dance performances.

Nick Van Eyck and Serena Wong's Salsa Vale Todo with Yenek and Karelia • photo by Tom Ehrlich

Mayito greeted a crowd that was already high as a kite on the strength of a really tremendous series of dance performances. Festival organizers Nick Van Eyck and Serena Wong got a chance to perform with their famous teachers on an amazingly spliced audio segment that went in and out of Charanga Habanera's epic Tema introducción twice. The choreography of its mind-boggling polyrhythmic bloque was stunning.

Meanwhile, over at the Timbaversity, Roberto Borrell gave a brilliant preview of his upcoming Finding the Clave course and Umi Vaughan was inspiring and thought-provoking as usual as he elaborated on his first two books on batá and timba, and threw out a few teasers about his third - a history of his mother's famous Oakland dance studio. [Kevin Moore]

Click Continue Reading for more great photos. Full galleries coming soon.

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