Bio Ritmo
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Bio Ritmo

Richmond, Virginia, United States | Established. Jan 01, 1990 | INDIE

Richmond, Virginia, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 1990
Band Latin World

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“most exciting and least pigeonhole-able modern groups out there.”

“They brilliantly blend 70s salsa and Latin funk with a heavy, raw rhythmic and percussive underbelly, impassioned lead and group vocals, terse brass blasts, weird bits of keyboards and other unpredictable touches that firmly root them in the here and now.” - DustyGroove.com


“Bio Ritmo is not your classic Salsa band but rather a group of talented artists whose musical influences have shaped a very innovative Salsa sound for the past twenty years.”

“one the best Salsa songs I have come across this year: “La Verdad”. - about.com


“This is salsa, though with a difference. The instruments are the same, the rhythms the same, but there’s a difference in the attitude and confidence. It’s clear that Bio Ritmo are taking salsa in a new direction.” - Sounds and Colours


“known as one of the most groundbreaking salsa bands of the last decade. Their sound is dubbed “post-salsa” and their style considered “old-school” or “alt-Latin,” but essentially Bio Ritmo is known for being themselves, writing and producing all original music with the mind set of a rock-n-roll band who happens to play “in clave.” - NY Remezcla.com


"Neither today nor ever before has there been a salsa group quite like Bio Ritmo. The group plays, unmistakably, with the beat and attitude of '70s-era salsa dura (hard salsa). But the conventionality stops there. With a roster that includes former rastas, punks, rockers, and jazzistas, Bio-Ritmo can't help but bring an exhilarating unorthodoxy to its music.” - WNYC


CRITIQUEWorld. En tournée en France, le groupe originaire de Richmond aux Etats-Unis régénère la salsa.
La ville de Richmond, Virginie, est célèbre pour être le berceau de Gwar, réjouissant mélange de hard rock et de grand guignol, ou de Lamb of God, apôtres du metalcore. Les musiques latines y étaient rares, jusqu’à ce qu’arrive Bio Ritmo. «Nous avons longtemps prétendu être de New York, sourit Marlysse Simmons, organiste du groupe, venir de Virginie nous rendait peu crédibles.» C’est pourtant cet isolement qui a permis au groupe d’exister, poursuit la musicienne : «A Washington, dont nous sommes proches, la communauté latino est importante, et les artistes gagnent leur vie dans les mariages en jouant des reprises. Pour nous, rien de tel. On a créé notre propre répertoire dès l’origine.»
Une origine pour le moins insolite, que retrace le chanteur Rei Alvarez. «Un musée de la ville, qui présentait une exposition sur les volcans, avait demandé pour le vernissage un groupe de tambours, le plus explosif possible. C’était en 1991 et de ce noyau dur est né, deux ans plus tard, Bio Ritmo», explique-t-il. De la formule tambours-voix des débuts, le groupe a évolué vers un combo de salsa dans la tradition new-yorkaise des années 70.

Le Bio Ritmo d’aujourd’hui a bien changé : les claviers vintage de Marlysse Simmons lui apportent une sonorité pop sixties très originale. L’intéressée explique : «J’ai une solide formation de piano classique, ça m’empêche de m’éclater avec un piano électrique, dont je trouve le son atroce. En revanche, j’adore les claviers dont on peut tirer des sonorités bizarres, les Farfisa notamment.»

Depuis 1996, Bio Ritmo sort régulièrement vinyles et CD de compositions originales, émaillés de quelques reprises obscures, empruntées à Los Univox de Colombie ou… à la pop géorgienne, souvenir d’un voyage à Tbilissi. «Leurs rythmiques nous évoquent une version ralentie du merengue dominicain», explique Rei Alvarez, originaire de Porto Rico. Cette vocation mondialiste sera amplifiée avec le prochain disque, le septième. «Nous écoutons des musiques de partout, et notre création s’en inspire de plus en plus.» Exemple ? Zeki Müren, idole de l’arabesk (la chanson turque moderne), dont Bio Ritmo s’est entiché.

Populaires sur toute la côte Est des Etats-Unis et en Colombie, où ils n’ont pourtant jamais joué, les membres du groupe n’en sont pas moins obligés d’avoir un autre métier : professeur de musique ou employé dans un restaurant de Richmond, le Kuba Kuba. «Bio Ritmo lui doit beaucoup, confie Rei Alvarez. J’y suis serveur, un percussionniste est cuistot… Quand on a des concerts ou des tournées, on se débrouille.»

En France pour la troisième fois, les Virginiens seront samedi au festival Tempo Latino dans le Gers, juste après une halte à Paris, où, comme l’été dernier, ils partageront l’affiche avec leurs amis Ocho y Media. - Liberation


“one of the most life-affirming albums of the year. It’s ultimately hard to write about a record that reveals itself as easily and perfectly as this one does – it’s virtually wall-to-wall perfection, a series of eight tracks that highlight why this band has outlasted most others and why, this long into its career, it’s still finding new things to say with its passionately defiant style” - PopMatters.com


“Breaking with all the clichés of the typical salsa bar band that plays standards simply to make people dance, Bio Ritmo does their own thing, in their own style and play good, original music that can be easily appreciated by open-minded people who are not necessarily into salsa. Plus, they are the only current salsa band in the US releasing vinyl!” - Juan Data


“Bred on not just salsa but also samba, rock, punk, funk, jazz and world beat, the band’s 10 members bring an adventurous spirit to the recording, adding an unusual variety of colors and twists to positive lyrics and clave-driven grooves.”

“Arrangements sometimes are so multifaceted that fans of, say, David Byrne or Charles Mingus will have no problem appreciating the ensemble’s broad perspective and energy” - The Washington Post


Discography

1996  Que Siga La Musica (Merge) 
1997  Salsa Galactica (Permanent) 
1998  Rumba, Baby Rumba (Triloka)
2003  Bio Ritmo (Locutor)
2006  Salsa System (Locutor)
2008  Bionico  (Locutor)
2011  La Verdad (Electric Cowbell)
2014  Puerta Del Sur (Vampisoul)

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Bio

Blazing a trail by playing some of the hardest hitting and far reaching modern salsa for 23 years now, Bio Ritmo have grown into one of the most intriguing and influential Latin dance bands of the last two decades. They are true rebels who have defied being pigeonholed and have helped pioneer a new generation of musicians (aka nueva generacion) that thrive on the spirit of experimentation that once defined the 70s Latin sound that became known as salsa.  From hipster rock clubs in Brooklyn to salsa bars in Cali, Colombia, Bio Ritmo keeps the bodies on the dance floor with their nitty-gritty, vintage grooves while turning heads with their experimental synth tones, innovative harmonies and thought provoking lyrics.  They convert the skeptics who only know the overly commercialized, tacky veneer of Latin music and challenge the purist who hitherto believed the genre died during the 90s.  They have a fierce, almost punk rock DIY ethos that pervades their attitude and style, releasing their records either by themselves or on indie and hip hop labels like Merge, Fat Beats and, Electric Cowbell. They cite Stereolab and Brazilian psychedelic music as influences in the same breath as name-dropping Ray Barretto, Roberto Roena and classic Fania records. Its no surprise that their new record, Puerta Del Sur, (Vampisoul release: June, 24, 2014) is coming out on a Spanish label whose mission is to resurrect lost Latin music.

Our mission from day one was to write original music in the classic salsa style, states Bio Ritmos lead singer and composer Rei Alvarez  and experimentation is as much a part of the tradition as the wide-ranging Afro-Cuban genres that its based on. 

Alvarez, a self-taught musician and artist, grew up in Ponce, Puerto Rico during the 1970s.  His strong opinions about aesthetics and style have undeniably shaped Bio Ritmos look and sound thru the years.  Working on Salsa System (2006) with the legendary engineer Jon Fausty (Fania Records) was like going to salsa boot camp, Alvarez says.  This experience plus a tour to Puerto Rico the same year boosted the groups confidence and gave them the vision to persevere and embrace their identity.  On Bionico (2008), we stopped trying to be a salsa band, he adds.  That is to say, the group realized that it wasnt about proving themselves as much as they simply wanted to be authentic to themselves.  Then on La Verdad (The Truth) (2011, Electric Cowbell) with veteran producer Aaron Levinson (Spanish Harlem Orchestra) it all came together.  Cited as one of the most life-affirming albums of the year, by PopMatters.com, it launched Bio Ritmo on its first tour to Europe - including an invitation to The Republic of Georgia - and inspired a 'salsa bar' outside of Cali, Colombia to name themself after the hit song La Muralla.

The band was born out of this raw, thriving artist community that still characterizes Richmond today, adds pianist, composer and producer Marlysse Simmons.  She stands head strong, with a unique flare and represents one of a few Latin women pianist and composers in the industry who also leads the band and its 9 eccentric male members. We come from all over the map culturally and musically speaking with punk rockers to jazz heads but all share a passion for salsa and a desire to create new things."

I sing about my experiences, says Alvarez. Its almost like Im giving advice to myself.  I find the songwriting process and working within the soneo sections (improvisations within a callresponse format) a healing experience.  Alvarez isnt the only member who gets healed from the music. Percussionist Hector "Coco" Barez, claims he cures himself with Bio Ritmo.  Its a detox of everything thats wrong with music today and also a great workout. Barez, a Puerto Rican native has clocked years touring and recording with some of the worlds most popular reggaeton and alternative Latin such as Calle 13. 

Bio Ritmo are true Latin music visionaries. The groups innovative and unique approach to the genre has put them at the forefront of the new generation of salsa music. Steeped in the classic salsa tradition, they keep experimenting with new ideas and in the process are helping mold the shape of salsa to come. They didnt set out to revolutionize salsa music but by operating their sonic laboratories in the most unlikely of places for a working Latin dance band (Richmond, Virginia) they've certainly proved that you can make a garden grow anywhere with the right care.

Band Members