Kadencia - Bomba & Plena / Salsa
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Kadencia - Bomba & Plena / Salsa

Richmond, Virginia, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2009 | INDIE

Richmond, Virginia, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2009
Band Latin Folk




"Rhythm and Culture"

The featured orchestra for the Aug. 24 Latin Jazz and Salsa Festival at Dogwood Dell burst onto the Richmond scene a year ago.

Led by Maurice Sanabria-Ortiz, 59, the 12-member Kadencia orchestra is dedicated to conserving and promoting Afro-Puerto Rican music.

“My music is inspired by my grandfather who lived until age 97,” Sanabria-Ortiz says. “He worked as a sugar cane train conductor, and he explained to me about the parties the sugar cane workers would have after the harvest using the bomba and plena music styles.”

Sanabria-Ortiz moved to Richmond eight years ago from Puerto Rico because of the economic crisis there. He left behind a career in the pharmaceutical industry and a band of the same name, but his move brought him closer to his son Maurice Sanabria Gallardo, 39, who has lived in the area for more than 15 years. Father and son both work at the Defense Supply Center in Chesterfield, and both are members of Kadencia.

Kadencia (a spin on the Spanish word for cadence) is one of the few Caribbean bands in Richmond. “In Puerto Rico, my group had three trombones, a bass and a piano,” Sanabria-Ortiz says. “Here, it’s one trombone, two trumpets and one sax player who also plays the flute.”

Sanabria Gallardo plays the plena drum and sings an echoing chorus to his father. Onstage, he also banters with his dad and explains the songs to the audience. “We are trying to use bomba and plena, these rhythms that were born out of poverty and slavery, to make something very nice,” he says.

At the Latin Jazz and Salsa Festival, Kadencia will share the bill with numerous local, national and Puerto Rico-based performers including Tito Puente Jr. The group will perform a repertoire from “La Voz del Barrio” (The Voice of the Neighborhood), a CD Sanabria-Ortiz brought from Puerto Rico. It was performed and recorded by musicians in his hometown of Mayaguez, but here in Richmond, Kadencia interprets the songs with new arrangements.

The song “Bomba de Baquine” tells the story and portrays a celebration of the enslaved sugar cane workers in Puerto Rico after a baby died because of the belief that the child was passing without sin. “Rumba Callejera” (Street Rumba) portrays a street party. “Juicio al Plenero” (Plenero Trial) is a tongue-in-cheek story of a court that has to determine the origin of the fast plena rhythm.

Says Sanabria Gallardo, who also does social media for the group, the music is “something that shows resiliency. It came out of these rhythms of people working very long hours. They used music to relax, to have fun and to talk about what happened. We use three different drums; we play as a team. Each of us [has] to play our part. We have to play in unison.”

Those are lessons the musicians have taken to stages at the Que Pasa Festival, the Henrico Theatre, the Smithsonian and the Lincoln Memorial, as well as a solo performance at Dogwood Dell earlier this summer and workshops at area schools.

“It’s an oral tradition,” says Sanabria-Ortiz. “They used to call plena the newspaper of the neighborhood, to talk about important events. But most important to the music are the rhythms.” Backed up by numerous percussionists in the band, as well as a hearty brass section, the rhythms are intended to make the audience dance.

Sanabria Gallardo is seeking to keep the band busy with monthly bookings. They also have a smaller ensemble that plays a more pared-down, traditional style. Sanabria-Ortiz is working with arrangers in Puerto Rico on his next album, which delves into the different histories of the island surrounding slavery, Africans and Spaniards.

“This band of heroes preserves the culture and history of the island of Puerto Rico through the preservation of our music bomba and plena,” says Luis Hidalgo, a Latin Jazz and Salsa Festival organizer. “Through their music and expression of fellowship, they bring us together in a time of divisiveness. - Richmond Magazine


Kadencia - La Voz del Barrio



Kadencia is an orchestra dedicated to conserving and promoting Afro-Puerto Rican music. The band uses Bomba, Plena, and Salsa to promulgate Puerto Rican culture, educate audiences on our Island’s native musical expressions, and make your body move in ways you never knew possible.Why Bomba, Plena, and Salsa?These rhythms are native to Puerto Rico and they were forged out of a necessity to communicate through song everything that is good and bad about our history, culture, and daily life. Music is one of the primary channels used by our people, whether in the mountains or “barrios”, to express social and economic injustice. Bomba and Plena are also conduits of joy that make people sing and dance like there is no tomorrow. Our mission is simple and straightforward; we will make you dance and have a great time while learning about the culture and music of Puerto Rico. We look forward to discussing how Kadencia can serve your musical, educational, and cultural needs.

Band Members