Ola Fresca
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Ola Fresca

Brooklyn, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2004 | INDIE

Brooklyn, New York, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2004
Band Latin World




"Cuban Music, Good for Dancing, and for Thinking"

Published: May 17, 2007
Cuban music can withstand endless revisions, and the singer-songwriter Jose Conde is taking his turn, as he suggested at Joe’s Pub on Tuesday night. Born in Miami to Cuban parents, Mr. Conde has been working in New York for the last 10 years, slowly formulating a kind of Afro-Cuban music with an enlarged frame. It now brings together son, guajira, guaracha with New Orleans funk, Nigerian Afrobeat, South American cumbia, James Brown rhythms, Haitian compas, Brazilian afoxe, New York City boogaloo and even jam-band stuff predicated on electric guitars as much as hand drums.
His band, Ola Fresca, isn’t the only one making these connections, but that doesn’t matter. These elements are already historically joined, and this project almost writes itself.
That’s a lot of dance rhythm in one band, but there’s a folkish element too: Mr. Conde’s vocal understatement — unusual for the singer of a Latin dance band — and his emphasis on songs with characters, wordplay and some mild social ideas.
On Tuesday Mr. Conde and his band ran through songs from a new record, “(R)evolucion” (Pipiki/Mr. Bongo), which comes out next week. None of it was pensive, sit-and-think music, but the show had the irresolute feeling of the music being neither completely contemplative nor kinetic. Songs like “Ritmo y Sabor,” a son-funk alloy, and “Pititi y Titi,” a compas-son sung in French, were pointing the way toward release.
But when the band found its stride and played a little harder, it all made sense, this balance between holding back and letting go. Some of the band’s excellent musicians made it happen — including the Cuban percussionists Roman Diaz and Marvin Diz; the keyboardist Pablo Vergara, who played jagged, powerful improvisations over Cuban rhythm patterns; the trombonist Rafi Malkiel, who soloed with loud confidence; and the electric guitarist Juancho Herrera, who played passages of ambient noise as well as driving grooves.
The band soon plays at the Living Room, a club associated more with cogitating than dancing. There Mr. Conde will have to try to retain his cool, but make the music explode with its inherent rhythm.
Jose Conde y Ola Fresca will play at the Living Room on May 27, June 10 and June 24; 154 Ludlow Street, Lower East Side, (212) 533-7235. - NY TIMES

"A Multi-Colored Revolution"

Cuban-American vocalist José Conde is both the lead singer and writer of the arrangements for his New York City-based band, Ola Fresca. That helps explain how the 14 tracks on the band's eclectic new album, "Revolucion," can at once honor the propulsive requirements of the Afro-Cuban form while displaying, in their lyrics and musical choices, a singer-songwriter's individuality and trademark whimsy. The program stretches broadly across the greater Caribbean basin, blending multiple styles (son, mambo, salsa but also cumbia, soca, reggae, and several flavors of funk) in a statement of roots connections that edges on occasion toward the didactic but recovers by grace of its sheer musical affability. Ola Fresca's mainly Cuban lineup develops the clave with the best of them, and some distinguished guests sit in for some of the album's memorable moments: New York salsa dura icon Jimmy Bosch and 88-year-old Cuban doyen Generoso Jimenez match trombones on "Descarga Inez," and Meters drummer Ziggy Modeliste appears on two songs, "Oshiri Pan Pan" and "Ride la Ola," that connect New Orleans and Havana in a way that, once you hear it, makes complete historical and musical sense and is utterly swinging. [Siddhartha Mitter] - Boston Globe

"OLA FRESCA Review/Preview"

American artists sometimes come off hokey (Ozomatli) or cartoonish (Yerba Buena) when they celebrate their Latin heritage. It’s just not enough to slap horns and hip-hop samples together with some Spanish lyrics and call it a party; crossing cultures takes finesse, subtlety and respect. Cuban-American bandleader Jose Conde displays all of those qualities on his latest album. Originally a Berklee College of Music modernist, he got back to his roots with an EP of Cuban classics in 2001 and has since forged a unique take on his ethnic identity.
It helps that Conde grew up in Miami, where the sounds of the Caribbean flow smoothly into American life. Scoffing at the strict rules of salsa, he found inspiration in everyday things like the sound of waves and the way women walk. Naturally, Conde’s multicultural flavor emanates from his beats. The Japanese-inspired “Oshiri Pan Pan” benefits from laid-back funk drumming by the Meters’ Zigaboo Modeliste, while “Café con Sangre” draws oomph from Puerto Rican bomba. These hybrids are products of the album’s utopian concept: to evolve beyond the Cuban Revolution to a state of harmonic coexistence across conventions. Neither too eager to show off his intrepidity nor too corny about his respect for tradition, Conde makes music as refined as his sociopolitical vision.—Cristina Black - TIME OUT NY

Revolucion Review"

Jose Conde y Ola Fresca
Revolucion (Mr Bongo)
Beautifully arranged and produced collection of latin grooves that flits, butterfly-like, between salsa, soca, mambo, reggae and funk. Exquisitely played, the various parts come together to create a singular, pulsing organism of music and rhythm that seems effortless in its fusing of different, though related, styles and timeless in its wide-eyed and universal romanticism. CK
Released June 18 - THE CRACK UK


José Condé and his band, José Condé y Ola Fresca are channelling the sounds of yesterday and releasing them in the thump of their drums, horns and a host of other rhythms. The Afro-Cuban group is grabbing listener’s attention with their blend of funk, rock, mumba, hatinain compas, cumbia, guaracha, and rumba. Bandleader José Condé was born in Chicago, and was raised in Miami, by parents who fled Cuba in the 60’s. The seeds of his past are heard in his music. A heart stopping smorgasbord of sounds, that bridge the gaps between Cuban and American communities. Influenced by the stories of the world around him, his latest album is entitled (R)Evolución. (R)Evolución focuses on his eternal battle between evolution, rage and regression, and keeps his listeners in a diasporic daze. If you are in the New York area on March 15th head out to the album release party at Joe's Pub and watch José work his magic. - TRACE



ELIXIR - PiPiKi Records 2015

(R)Evolucion PiPiKi Records /Mr Bongo UK 2007

Ay!Que Rico  PiPiKi Records 2004

Re released by Pimienta/Universal in 2005


Jose Conde - solo album - 2011 - PiPiKi Records LLC

Baby Loves Salsa Rope a Dope/Sony 2008  

(Writer, Arranger, Musical Director - Jose Conde)


Compilations – License History

Putumayo Café Cubano CD (El Chacal) WORLD

Putumayo World Salsa Compilation (AY! Que Rico) WORLD

Putumayo Children’s Playground CD (Bolitas de Arroz con Pollo) WORLD

Putumayo Jazz Café CD (Cumbamba) WORLD

Rough Guide to Nuevo Latino (Ride la Ola) WORLD

Rough Guide to Salsa Clandestina (Café Con Sangre) WORLD

Rough Guide to Latin Funk (Oshiri Pan Pan) WORLD

McDougal Littell/Universal
Musica del Mundo (Goza mi Changui) USA

PBS – 90 miles Feature Doc – Music from AY! Que Rico + USA



2015 has been a busy one for OLA FRESCA.  ELIXIR, their 3rd album, was released to great acclaim digitally and on CD in June and will be out for audiophiles on 180 gram vinyl in September.  The band has performed a number of US festivals and concerts and will travel to Sydney, Australia for a feature slot in the Darling Harbor Fiesta Festival of 2015.

In a way not done in Cuba or Puerto Rico, or even in New York, they weave the musical bridges that connect traditional and modern Cuban dance music with, salsa, funk, and world beat rhythms. Ola Fresca has it's own perspective of Tropical music which behind the creative energy of Jose Conde, through 10 years and 2 acclaimed, award winning albums has led it to evolve it's own swinging, fearless tropical sound directly from Brooklyn.

 From their rustic Cuban roots 2004 debut Ay! Que Rico, to the funky, eclectic Best Latin Album in the 2008 Independent Music Awards, (R)Evolucion, the band meandered through spectrums of Latin roots styles and formats before settling as a trombone led octet. Praised by the NY TIMES for making music with an “emphasis on songs with characters, wordplay and mild social ideas...good for dancing and thinking,” Ola Fresca garnered support from fans worldwide in a successful kickstarter that yielded their latest album.  Elixiris a lyrical antidote to factional bickering everywhere in the world, which skillfully blends Cuban son, rumba, and timba, and Puerto Rican-style salsa, for a fresh sound that embraces the best of New York’s Latin scene. 

 Amidst the backdrop of the opening of relations between Cuba and USA, and the rise of the Latin demographic in the USA, evoking Afro Cuban mestizo culture, drumming, and dance in a musical celebration that transcends boundaries, Ola Fresca’s Cuban roots perspective, from the prism of Brooklyn, New York and Miami a vital contribution to the Latin music soundscape. 



Band Members