Mario Sebastian
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Mario Sebastian

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There's no question about it: Here's 2 the Arts will be smoking on Saturday night.

By Jeff Cummins
Staff Writer

There's no question about it: Here's 2 the Arts will be smoking on Saturday night.

Mario Sebastian is well-versed in Latin music, having played in Marc Anthony's band for several years. Maybe you'd prefer to hear a little metal. Well, Sebastian is a self-described "Zephead," a devotee of Led Zeppelin, which many would argue was the band that started heavy metal.

But maybe the winter has you thinking of spring and the annual visit the Allman Brothers make to the Beacon Theater in New York City. Not to worry, a member of Sebastian's group has been a longtime backup performer for the Allman Brothers.

Sebastian's initial musical inspiration began a lot closer to home, when he took an interest in music after hearing his father play.

"My main start is my father. He's been a musician his whole life and he's been a working musician since the day I was born. When I was probably 3 or 4 years old, going to his gig, I would fall asleep next to his bass drum while he was playing live," Sebastian said. "That was always in the back of my mind when I was growing up. I didn't really start to tap into it until I was about 14. I just started playing drums and guitar and it progressed to the point where I wanted to do music. People started saying that I sounded good, so I believed it and I just kept doing it to this day. Music was in my veins already."

Sebastian had the benefit of natural talent and he also had the benefit of learning through osmosis. He is self-taught, but much of his learning had to come from listening to his father play and from absorbing and being around the music.

"I've been fortunate to actually have people who think that I'm good," Sebastian said. "I was on tour and I had people coming up to me and telling me how Marc Anthony would talk about me like I was some kind of genius and I was flabbergasted."

Anthony learned about Sebastian from a friend of a friend of a friend, according to Sebastian. Sebastian played in a band that was formed by someone in Anthony's band and the day came when Anthony needed someone.

"They called me at the last minute and I was already prepared because the bass player always told me, "Hey, why don't you learn Marc's tunes just for the heck of it; you never know."

"Sure enough, I show up for his gig and it's at Madison Square Garden. We did like four or five songs. We were playing with Ricky Martin and Donna Summer and that was my first experience. I just kind of showed up, did the gig and he saw me on stage.

"He met me once because we kind of hung out with his bass player, so he kind of knew who I was. Then, after that, it happened one more time. The guitar player didn't show up and, at that point, Marc just got (angry) at this guy and he liked me, and he said, 'You know what, I just want to keep Mario. I dig Mario and that's it.' I got initiated into the band in Cancun and, from then on, it's history."

But now, Sebastian is adding his own work to his involvement with Anthony's group. For the last three years, he's been writing his own songs "I formed a rock band with my bass player, but we could never find a singer, so I ended up singing myself," Sebastian said.

"All my material is stuff that I've been writing for the past few years. It's very personal, but it's pop rock, you know. We rock out. It's a trio. I've got Erben Perez on bass, who is the bass player for Marc and Jennifer Lopez, and I have Marc Quinones on drums. Marc is a percussionist and drummer for the Allman Brothers. So the music is more in the vein of anything from John Mayer to Rob Thomas to Incubis. It has all these different influences and stuff. These guys are veterans in the industry.

"Erben has been with Marc for 15 years, which is a long time. He's also worked with a lot of major Latin artists, and Quinones as well. He's revered as one of the top percussionists in the world. he's recorded with Celia Cruz and every major Latin artist you can imagine, along with playing with the Allman Brothers for like 10 years; he's a senior member. It can be intimidating at times, but they're so down to earth and they really love the music, so we just vibe on the stage and feed off the music. It's a really good experience."

Sebastian, whose birth name is Mario Guini, was born in Argentina but raised in the United States, having moved around the country frequently because his mother was married to a career Navy man. He's been in Bergenfield for the past eight or nine years, so the Garden State has become a sort of home base for him.

"Every gig I do with my band is special, just because it's my own music and there's nothing like playing your own music," Sebastian said. "There was a time I played with Marc, it was a time we went to Spain, and at a venue that held 20,000 people and 40,000 showed up. The people were so loud that they would sing the song and we - Essex Journal


Five years ago Jennifer Lopez was telling us that we shouldn't be fooled by the rocks that she got, that she was still Jenny from the block. That was a side of Jennifer that we all seemed to like - the fresh Jenny, the fun-loving kid from the Bronx who still rode the 6 train of her youth no matter what private plane was whisking her from New York to L.A. Now, on her first all-Spanish-language release, she wants to reveal another side of her, the one who watched telenovelas with her mother, the one who feels more like Miami Beach than Orchard beach.

The beauty of being a bilingual singer today is that for every Latin R&B/salsa and hip-hop fan there are plenty who actually enjoy the grandiose pop that permeates "Como Ama una Mujer" (Epic). So excuse Lopez if she chooses to play to that drippy sentimentalism that many of us are embarrassed to admit is essential to Spanish-speaking Hispanic culture, at least the one portrayed nightly on Telemundo and Univision. This is Jenny sans Diddy, insisting in a different way that she's "real."

With true love Marc Anthony and collaborator Julio Reyes producing, "Como Ama una Mujer (Like a Woman Loves)" is an ambitious concept album designed to highlight the woman's perspective in the romantic love equation. Only occasionally using Latin rhythms ("Te Voy a Querer" is a fusion of samba and cumbia), Anthony and Reyes have found a way to mix Anthony's backing "rock" band (aka Talking Buddha, featuring guitarist Mario Guini and bassist Erben Perez) with a sweeping string section, evoking a cinematic feel. (Jennifer Lopez)'s voice is generally up to the task, at times sounding more convincing than on her English albums.

"Que Hiciste (What Did You Do)," the first single, busts out of the gate with feisty "hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" choruses punctuated by Guini's acoustic and electric guitar riffing. "Porque te Marchas (Because Your Leaving)," with its haunting piano figure and lyrics, approaches the level of Alejandro Sanz's recent work. And if you were yearning for a song to replace "No Me Ames" as the ultimate J.Lo-Marc Anthony song, "Por Arriesgarnos (Because We Took A Chance)," with Anthony prominently singing in the chorus, is the one.

The only problem is that many of the songs are predictable and, at times, plodding. The happy couple's reliance on Miami songwriting whiz Estefano for material is a double-edged sword. While he writes state-of-the-art pop and his own solo album has an original flair, it's hard to keep up a feeling of spontaneity when the songs are a vehicle for others. (Anthony's own recordings can suffer from the same syndrome.) This might be comforting to regular fans of telenovelas, but it would have been nice if Lopez had used the opportunity to do a Spanish-language album to mix things up with some playful excursions into bachata, salsa, reggaeton or even rap en Espanol.

Still, let's not forget that in Spanish, real also means royal. "Como Ama Una Mujer" certainly establishes Lopez as a potential queen of Latin Pop. - Newsday


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

Mario Sebastian was born and raised in the Spanish rock capital of South America; Argentina. Mario started off playing drums and then turned his creative expression to electric and acoustic guitars. Mario studied for two years at "Centro Polivalente de Arte de Buenos Aires", a conservatory of the arts in Buenos Aires.

At age 17 Mario decided to relocate to New York City along with a group of close friends and fellow musicians. It was in New York that he met Marc Anthony’s long time bassist Erben Perez. After being asked to replace a guitarist who didn’t show up for a concert at Madison Square Garden he was then invited to join the Marc Anthony Band as there guitarist for both salsa and pop. Since then he has recorded on various productions with Erben Perez for Marc Anthony, including Jennifer Lopez's last 2 albums including the all guitars on her Spanish album "Como Ama Una Mujer."

Mario has also recorded and toured with SONY NORTE artist Jean and is sponsored by Gibson Guitars, Godin Guitars, ZOOM and INTUNE GP.

To view Mario's debut video - "We're Still The Same" click on the link below:

www.youtube.com/mariosebastianmusic

Recent tours include:
Jennifer Lopez & Marc Anthony “Juntos en Concierto 2007
Juntos Tour (Marc Anthony, Marco Antonio Solis, Laura Pausini)" 2006
Juntos Tour (Marc Anthony, Chayanne, Alejandro Fernandez) U.S. Tour 2005
Marc Anthony Spain Tour 2005 and 2006
Madison Square Garden (Marc Anthony)

Recent TV Appearances:
American Idol 2007 (Jennifer Lopez “Que Hiciste”)
Ellen DeGeneras 2007 (Jennifer Lopez)
Super Bowl 2006 (Marc Anthony)
The View with Barbara Walters (Marc Anthony)
The Early Show CBS (Marc Anthony)
The Today Show NBC (Marc Anthony)
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (Marc Anthony)
World Music Awards 2004 Las Vegas, NV

Recording Credits:
“Como Ama Una Mujer” - Jennifer Lopez 2007 - Epic
“El Cantante” Soundtrack
“Bordertown” Soundtrack
“Rebirth” - Jennifer Lopez 2005 – Epic