Alex Acuna ( Drums )
One of the most versatile drummers/percussionists in the world, Alex was born and raised in Lima, Peru. He first travelled to the United States as the teenage drummer for the Perez Prado Big Band. He played with Elvis Presley, Diana Ross, and Weather Report. He’s worked with Paul McCartney, Ella Fitzgerald, Placido Domingo, Julio Iglesias, Juan Gabriel, Herbie Hancock, Whitney Houston, Lalo Schifrin, Luis Miguel, Chic Corea, and many many others, too numerous to mention. He is the co-leader of Tolu, and leads several bands of his own, including “Los Hijos del Sol” and the “Unknowns”.
Justo Almario (tenor sax )
Justo Almario is a Colombian born woodwind player who is considered one of the top Latin jazz saxophonists in the world. He migrated to Boston in 1969 to study at the prestigious Berklee College of Music. He joined the Mongo Santamaria band in the 1970’s, and became Mongo’s musical director. Justo has performed or recorded with Charles Mingus, Roy Ayers, Freddie Hubbard, Tito Puente, Linda Ronstadt, Chaka Khan, Queen Latifah,
Herb Alpert, Dianne Reeves, Poncho Sanchez, Cachao, Placido Domingo, Jennifer Lopez, and many others. Along with Alex Acuna, Justo co-leads the powerful Latin jazz band Tolu.
Victor Baez ( vocals / percussion )
Victor is a solid L.A. based Chicano percussionist and vocalist who performs with almost all of the latin bands in town. He’s played with Freddie Crespo’s Mambo Review, Tierra and Poncho Sanchez.
Jimmy Branly ( drums / timbales )
Born in Havana , Cuba , Jimmy began playing drums at the age of 13. Without question, he is one of the top West Coast drummers. Jimmy Branly has performed with almost every major jazz, fusion and dance group in Cuba . His performing and recording credits include Gonzalo Rubalcaba, N.G. La Banda, Isaac Delgado, Cuarto Espacio, Ernan Lopez-Nussa, Flora Purim,
Airto Moreira, Celia Cruz, Tito Nieves, Strunz & Farrah, Sheila ‘E’, Jimmy Haslip, Francisco Aguabella, Luis Conte, Rebecca Mauleon, Justo Almario, Alex Acuna, The Jazz on the Latin Side All Stars, Otmaro Ruiz, Russell Ferrante, Poncho Sanchez, Franky Negron, among many others
Rene Camacho ( bass )
This very talented young Chicano bassist from Arizona , has earned a great respect from the top musicians in Los Angeles . His recording credits include sessions with Bobby Matos, Strunz and Farrah, and Bobby Rodriguez. He has performed with the Pointer Sisters, Dizzy Gillespie, Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr., Celia Cruz, Tito Puente, Peter Erskine, Lew Tabacken, Poncho Sanchez, Sister Sledge, and Francisco Aguabella.
Sal Cracchiolo ( trumpet )
Sal recorded on 18 CD’s with Poncho Sanchez, and toured worldwide since 1975. He is one of the heavy weight Latin jazz trumpeters on the West Coast. Sal has also played with Dizzy Gillespie, Freddie Hubbard, Cal Tjader, Stanley Turrentine, Tito Puente, Celia Cruz, Mongo Santamaria, Eddie Harris, and many others. He has toured with Tom Jones and Vicki Carr, and has recorded a CD, “Fly”, with his wife, vocalist Melanie Jackson-Cracchiolo. Sal is currently a member of the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra.
Freddie Crespo ( lead vocals )
Freddie was born in New York City . This Nuyorican learned percussion jammin’ in New York ’s boogaloo era. He was playing and recording with many top groups like Johnny Colon, Pete Rodriguez, and Joe Bataan. He went on to play with such artists as Tito Puente, Ismael Miranda, Nelson Gonzalez, Pete “El Conde” Rodriguez, and Charlie Palmieri. As a vocalist, Freddie is the leading sonero in L.A. He has also lead bands like “Costa Azul” and “Freddie Crespo’s Mambo Review”.
Joey De Leon ( congas / percussion )
Joey comes from Puerto Rican ancestry, raised in the bronx, New York . This young man is a dedicated student of percussion. He attended the Manhattan School of Music, and has now lived in Los Angeles for a number of years. He has recorded with Francisco Aguabella, Alex Acuna,
Robert Incelli, Strunz & Farrah, and performed with Bobby Shew, Hilton Ruiz, Poncho Sanchez, Justo Almario, Tolu, Joan Sebastian, and many others.
Ramon Flores ( trumpet )
For over 40 years now, Ramon has been recognized as one of the best musicians anywhere. He began in his native Mexico , working with Pablo Beltran Ruiz, Luis Alcaraz, and the late great Mexican jazz genious Mario Patron. He met Quincy Jones in Mexico , and began touring with him, moving to Los Angeles , to work as a studio musician. Ramon met international singer Juan Gabriel during Juan Gabriel’s early singing career, and Ramon has recorded on almost all of Juan Gabriel’s records to date. Ramon is a top arranger, and he has worked with Bob Florence, Poncho Sanchez, Jack Sheldon, Francisco Aguabella, Bill Holman, Caravana Cubana, and mariachi with Placido Domingo.
Conrado “Coky” Garcia ( timbales / drums / congas / bongo )
Coky is a world class Cuban drummer now living in Los Angeles . He was one of the original members of Gonzalo Rubalcaba’s Grupo Proyecto in Cuba . Coky played with almost all of the top bands in Cuba . He recorded on the great Emiliano Salvador’s last CD. Coky performs regularly with the Jazz on the Latin Side All Stars, and he has also recorded with Tony Perez and Francisco Aguabella.
Luis Eric Gonzalez ( trumpet )
Luis Eric was born in Cuba , and started playing trumpet at the age of 7. He is a graduate of the Institute of Arts in Havana , and has several years of formal classical training. He not only performed and recorded with Cuba ’s top bands, but performed and recorded on operas, ballets, radio, and documentary films. He has toured and recorded with Don Henley, Celia Cruz, Raul Malo, Lou Vega, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Tito Nieves, Juan Gabriel, Joan Sebastian and Carl Thomas. Luis Eric is also a talented composer/arranger, with his own production company, Azulu Productions.
Robert Incelli ( alto sax / arranger )
Robert was born and raised in Venezuela . His father, Angelo, trained him in the intricacies of classical and folkloric music. His father was a trumpet virtuoso. At 19, Robert joined the international salsa super-star, Oscar D’Leon. He eventually became Oscar’s musical director, touring 45 countries, and performing with the likes of Joe Henderson, Arturo Sandoval,
James Moody, Paquito D’Rivera, Tito Puente, and other jazz greats. He was a featured soloist on the HBO music special, “Americanos”, and was touring with Earth, Wind and Fire. Robert also leads his own Latin jazz band with two CDs on Tonga Records.
Eric Jorgensen ( trombone )
Eric comes from the Barry Rogers school of “blow”. When Eric takes a solo, everyone turns. He is one of the top trombonists in the L.A. salsa circuit. Playing regularly with Son Mayor.
Danilo Lozano ( flute )
Danilo was born into a great musical family, absorbing a great deal from his father, Rolando, a legendary Cuban flutist who worked with Orquesta Aragon, Mongo Santamaria, and Cal Tjader. Danilo has been a part of numerous bands, including Qwest and Miguel Cruz & Skins. He is a founding member of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, and was a featured soloist with the Mexican National Symphony Orchestra. Although he has appeared with many international stars such as Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Cachao, and Linda Ronstadt, he has maintained a personal commitment to education. He has taught at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, California Polytechnical University , UCLA, and is currently on the faculty of Whittier College . Danilo was the musical director of the HBO special “Americanos”, and he also leads the Cuba L.A. band
Pablo Mendez ( violin )
Pablo is a highly respected musician in his native country El Salvador . He studied at Centro National de Artes in San Salvador . He was the Assistant Concert Master of the National Symphonic Orchestra in El Salvador . Pablo has lived in L.A. for a number of years now, and he has performed with Tito Puente, Cachao, Larry Harlow, and Natalie Cole, among others. He has recorded with Cuba L.A., Charanga Cubana, and Bongologic.
Bijon Watson ( trumpet )
This wonderful trumpeter carries a mean punch, and, like Danilo Lozano, he is also a former USC football player. Bijon is the lead trumpet for the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, and he is the music director at The Orange County High School of the Arts.