Silas Meredith and the New World Salsa Orchestra
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Silas Meredith and the New World Salsa Orchestra

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Passengers on New Haven’s 12:45 bus from the Green to Lighthouse Point Park were assaulted Sunday. The attack involved drums, a clarinet, a guitar, a trombone, more drums — and a high-octane level of community spirit.

Unsuspecting commuters boarded not a bus, but a concert on wheels organized by José Monteiro of New Haven’s Arts Council.

Monteiro (pictured) has worked on many musical events in the past, during which he met Silas Meredith, a math teacher at Hopkins School with a serious jazz habit. Monteiro describes Meredith as “a great artist who wants to do exciting things and revolutionize.”

The seven-member band Monteiro and Meredith organized to play on the bus Sunday was indeed revolutionary. The Outbound Brass Band, as they call themselves, had their first practice session this Saturday. Limited rehearsal time did not detract from an energetic and highly skilled performance, however, one that quickly inspired sing-a-longs to classics like “When the Saints Go Marching In,” “Amazing Grace,” “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” and, of course, “The Wheels on the Bus.”

Though the Yale graduate mixes eclectic influences from his world travels by playing for several different bands (click here to see Meredith’s website), including jazz and salsa ensembles, the Outbound Brass Band is decidedly Dixieland. They demonstrated this playful style in a riffing, up-tempo rendition of “I’ll Fly Away,” a song featured in the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou and which Meredith joked he “originally thought was composed by George Clooney. Apparently it’s not.”

When the G bus pulled into Lighthouse Point Park, band members and an audience of established fans as well as surprised passengers shifted to the boardwalk, where more rousing standards and a couple of original songs attracted beachgoers of all ages.

One couple on a church picnic seized a daytime dancing opportunity, while younger swimmers did some dancing of their own.

Monteiro was more than pleased with the concert, clapping along and giving a brief explanation of the unusual event. “Part of our mission,” he said of the Arts Council, “is to showcase our local artists in non-conventional settings.” He described the concert as “another way that we want to promote a green New Haven. There are people who’ve never been on a bus or never been to Lighthouse Point before,” people who might decide to forgo a gas-guzzling car for public transport if music is involved. Connecticut Transit gave an extra incentive by subsidizing all concert-goers’ tickets and providing an additional return bus service, which, despite arriving an hour or two later than expected, was much appreciated. Monteiro thanked CT Transit profusely and hopes to organize a similar concert sometime soon.

The idea of “Music on Wheels” hit Monteiro when a man boarded his Whalley Avenue bus and burst into a spontaneous Mohammed Ali monologue. Energized commuters clapped and cheered at his conclusion, and Monteiro saw something he could recreate. Hopefully, he’ll do it again soon. - The New Haven Independent, September 10, 2007


Disarmingly old-fashioned jazz-pop songs, with intermittent jamming. The '70's-style indulgences - smooth sax solos, coy keyboard chords, jazz-style vocal riffing, trips into tropical and soft-rock territories - are so at odds with most of what's happening in clubs these days that it's positively refreshing. Leading a five-piece band, Silas Meredith plays bass and sings in a non-slick, non-pretentious manner that grounds his matter-of-fact upbeat lyrics ("Wouldn't It Be Nice?", "Good Old Days", "The Winky Smile"). He should get on a bill with th equally breezy local Kohath Fusco. - New Haven Advocate, December 7, 2006


Silas Meredith's cd Roots has cover art that belies something amateur. The pen-and-ink drawing brings with it something of a high school aesthetic, a doodle someone would sketch out on the back of a notebook during study hall.
But it is not fair to judge this book by its cover; the art is a poor match for the lounge swagger that the disc excels at.
Loyal To The Brand is a clear stand out with a hook Todd Rundgren would kill for and the entire record could easily slide into any 70's AM playlist.
Roots is a delicious hodgepodge of Bacharach, Zappa, and Stereolab. This is a perfect record for sipping martinis, so dim the lights as Silas Meredith gives this week's records a first listen. - Play Magazine, February 21, 2007


Este jueves la Ruta del Jazz tendra cuatro grupos participantes: Amadeus, Brahms, Staccato y La Maquina del Poder. Estas agrupaciones lo hacen cada mes en Ruta Maya. En esta ocasion Amadeus, que integran Orlando Molina, sax y flauta y director; Petrovsky Argueta, en la guitarra electrica y Hernan Corea en la bateria, han invitado al norteamericano Silas Meredith, bajista y quien participara con dos intervenciones de Miles Davis y Errol Gardner, Entrada para ver los cuatro grupos: 80 cordobas. - El Nuevo Diario, July 3, 2003


Hometown fans get a triple play
By Serena Markstrom
The Register-Guard

After graduating from Yale, Meredith got a teaching job in New Haven, Conn. One of his top priorities is traveling the world to infuse as many sounds into his own as possible.

Meredith's Monday show won't be the first time he's played a venue not normally used for concerts. He once performed with a full band on a city bus, and during a phone interview he hesitated a little before discussing another show he played with his high school band, Soul Function.

"They can't take my diploma away now, can they?" he said, joking about the April Fool's Day concert in 1997, when he and several band members climbed a tree outside the band room at South and performed there.

Meredith had to skip precalculus to set up for the gig.

Missing that math class did not affect Meredith's academic future. Since graduating from South in 2000, Meredith earned a history degree from Yale; he's been a high school and middle school math teacher since 2004.

On his CD, "Roots," Mere- dith's jazz background appears to be his deepest root. But all of the other places where he's plugged in his amp are present, too.

Meredith has performed in Brazil, Nicaragua, Ghana, India, Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic. He maintains in his news bio that Australia and Antarctica are the only continents he hasn't played.

How then, on a teacher's salary, does this young musician gallivant around the world? Rich parents?

No, he said during a recent phone interview. He simply lives frugally, rides a bike instead of driving, avoids eating out too much and saves money to "go where the music is."

Meredith is fluent in Portuguese and Spanish. But he said it's his fluency in jazz that has opened doors in foreign lands.

In Eugene, it will just be Meredith and his guitar; to hear all of the world music sounds on "Roots," you will have to buy the CD. Meredith's brother Peter, who is an accomplished salsa drummer, won't be making the trip home to back him up.

Of his venue for the hometown show, Meredith said he chose University Park because it's near where he grew up.

"That park's got a lot of memories for me," he said. "I'm playing the new stuff in the old place." - The Eugene Register-Guard, August 17, 2007


Discography

Silas Meredith and the New World Salsa Orchestra "Take Me to Your Leader"
(to be released March 2009)

This year, salsa fans around the world mark the 30th anniversary of "Siembra," an album that changed the history of salsa. In 1978, Rubén Blades and Willie Colón, without losing their famous ability to laugh at themselves, tapped into a deep well of social consciousness with anthems like "Plástico" and "Pedro Navaja." Years have passed, but I believe it is still the duty of a musician to envision a better world, and to enjoy the journey along the way. Though most of the members of the New World Salsa Orchestra weren’t born yet in 1978 (and though we were raised on Schoolhouse Rock, Super Mario Brothers, and Ani DiFranco as much as on Héctor Lavoe, El Gran Combo, and Celia Cruz), we hope to follow in the footsteps of those who brought salsa to this universe. In 1978, Willie and Rubén gave the command "siembra" – sow. We hope that we are part of the la cosecha – the harvest.

Silas Meredith "Roots"
(released 2006)

“Roots” is global roots rock at its very best: flavorful tunes with a melodic sensibility that anyone can enjoy, without forgetting the weird meters and lush chords that make music worth playing in the first place. If you filed it with your CDs of American music, you would put it somewhere between Paul Simon, Rufus Wainwright, Stevie Wonder, The Beatles, and Sting.
You could listen to the whole album and never think twice about the simmering stew of musical history that “Roots” is drawn from; you would just think “Hey, these are catchy tunes!” But if you listen with a careful ear, you will hear that “The Winky Smile” and “The Wishing Well” are samba songs; that “Last Train from Grand Central” and “Puddle Jumper” are bossa nova songs; that “Good Old Days” is a soukous song patterned on Congolese star Kanda Bongo Man; you will hear that “Song for Mo” is patterned on the chimurenga style of the Zimbabwean singer Thomas Mapfumo. You will hear the roots.
To make the album, Silas Meredith traveled the world looking for soul-moving melodies and rhythms. Then he came home, wrote the best 11 songs he’s ever written, played them with the most talented musicians he’s ever heard, and made the most infectious, funky, sweet, dancing, run-a-marathon, take-the-world-by-storm album that you could ever hope to hear.

Photos

Bio

“El que no canta, es porque tiene BAD BREATH!” -Hector Lavoe

Members of the New World Salsa Orchestra have played with or have split a bill with:
Gilberto Santa Rosa
Eddie Palmieri
Elvis Crespo
Victor Manuelle
Ray Sepulveda
Avance
Latin Expression
La Excelencia
Louie Romero y su grupo Mazacote (The debut album “Take Me To Your Leader” features (on all 11 songs) Louie Romero, a La Fania original who has performed and recorded with Hector Lavoe, Willie Colon, Celia Cruz and many others.)

Antarctica and Australia, watch out! These are the only two remaining continents where Silas has not performed. Silas has performed across the United States, as well as in Brazil, Nicaragua, Ghana, India, Austria, Hungary, and the Czech Republic.

Here's why people in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa are so excited about his music:

Imagine that Tito Puente, Hector Lavoe, Celia Cruz, El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico, and the La Fania All-Stars got together to make a salsa super-group, and let They Might Be Giants compose the lyrics. Imagine that the Beatles were a salsa band. Imagine that kids raised on equal parts Ruben Blades and Schoolhouse Rock, on Willie Colon and Monty Python, grew up, cut their teeth playing with some of the best salsa musicians on the planet, and then found themselves at the forefront of a new salsa universe.

This is the New World Salsa Orchestra. This music will make you want to dance, but it will also change the way you think about salsa. Check it out. And TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER!