SOLAZO
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SOLAZO

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"Premier Southeast Latin Band"

I think they have surpassed Bio Ritmo as the premier Southeast Latin Band. - - Jack Rabbit, Lake Eden Arts Festival


"Kudos!"

Kudos! I would like to thank members of Solazo for presenting an utterly superb performance at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts….I can assure you we will explore opportunities for future performances by Solazo. - Ronald Epps, VMFA


"Nothing but great feedback"

I’ve gotten nothing but great feedback on Solazo…fantastic; fabulous; generous; energetic; so much fun; lively; wonderful; great musicians; etc!!! We really loved having them. - - Cindy Hollister, Bluemont Concert Series


"Kim McKay"

Solazo are brilliant. - Discovery Channel


"Amy Swan"

What a fantastic ensemble! Our audience loved the show. - Kennedy Center


"Sheridan Hill"

Move over, Ricky Martin, and take your pop Grammy with you. When Pepe Aranda sings "Mi Historia Entre Tus Dedos" (my life -- past and present and future -- in your hands), women get dreamy-eyed and men listen with a curious ear, warming to the romance and mystery of Latin music. Even those whose Spanish vocabulary begins and ends with "fiesta," even the most uneducated American ear readily hears the treasure in Aranda's distinctive music, which is cherished in many areas of South America. His new CD, "Solazo," was recorded in Ecuador, mixed in Nashville, and is a self-titled compilation of original tunes and traditional Latin music borrowed from Spain, Italy, Puerto Rico, Brazil and Ecuador. Layered with sensual Cuban rhythms and spiked with the unusual flavors of Andean sounds (panpipe, charango and mandolin), the unique and artful arrangements move fluidly from flamenco to mamba within the course of a single song, creating a rare blend of Latin folk and dance music. The band's sound is further distinguished by Aranda's flawless guitar style, influenced by eight years of classical violin training beginning when he was a 7-year-old student in a Chilean music conservatory. Solazo is a newly formed band consisting of members who have played together and toured the globe in various venues for more than ten years, including the well-known Ecuadorian rock group, Barro. Chilean percussionist Charry Garcia has recorded on more than 20 CDs and toured both Europe and the USA with the popular Chilean band Altiplano. It's hard not to feel awe when he moves effortlessly between the soulful panpipes and the energetic charango. Vocalist-guitarist Kike Rodriguez was lead singer for Barro, and has released a CD ("Kike & Miguel") with singe r-guita rist Miguel Benitez. To promote their new self-titled CD, Solazo comes to the Triad in September for various events including Borders Sept. 17th, the Hispanic Festival, Sept. 18th, and Alive After Five Sept. 23, all in Winston-Salem. In the meantime, Aranda frequently travels from his new home in Floyd, Virginia for solo venues across the east coast. - Freelance writer


"Latin Group Plays it's way into the hearts of audience"

Latin group Solazo plays its way into hearts of audience

By Matt Mathis

Is Colombia in the house? You bet.

In fact, the audience gathered at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts on Saturday night represented several South American countries – all coming out for the performance of the Latin music group Solazo.

The Virginia-based band is essentially a collaboration of four musicians: Miguel Benitez, who hails from Argentina; Pepe Aranda and Kike Rodriguez, both from Chile; and Janiah Allen, who comes from Ecuador by way of Key West, Fla.

Collectively, they play more than a dozen instruments and a song list of contemporary and traditional songs from across the Latin diaspora.

For its VMFA debut, the group eased the audience into the evening with a series of contemporary pieces. The first selection was a solo performance by Aranda, the lead guitarist. The string instrument is right at home beneath his fingers. His playing is not just technically sound, but expressive as well, and his singing is just as emotionally fueled. His whispery tenor filled the expansive marble hall during a duet with fellow vocalist and bassist Benitez.

With each song another member of the group came to the stage until all members were present for the performance of the up-tempo Afro-Cuban infused “Hermit.”

At the midpoint of the set, the group provided the audience of more than 150 with a history lesson on traditional instruments, including the quena (flute), the bombo (drum) and the charango, a tiny string instrument that is essentially a guitar neck and string attached to the shell of an armadillo. The audience was warned that the hair of the animal continues to grow, so the instrument has to be shaved periodically.

The group then erupted into a series of more traditional pieces. Each instrument was employed during the playing of a fast-paced Argentinean Chacarera and Chilean Cueca, which is performed in celebration of Chilean independence.

When the group performed Cumbia, which originates in Colombia, three women took to the floor to dance. The evening ended with a series of danceable songs that were hot enough to fry bacon.

While the group was limited in its command of the English language, its music communicated well enough to win a new group of fans. Most of the attendees remained afterward to meet the band members.
- Richmond Times


"Asheville Citizen-Times"

The temperature dipped a little earlier this week, but don't worry, a Latin music heat wave is on the way. They go by the name of Solazo (Blazing Sun), and they're one of the East Coast's hottest, newest Latin groups. People who saw them came away impressed. Their release proves that their music is not only magical, but very spiritual.
The latest album leaves women dreamy-eyed, while men may be curious about the group's romantic message.
Pepe Aranda is the lead singer in this five member all Latin group from South America. (He) is a master at picking the strings of his guitar, leaving the listener in a trance. His Chilean guitar style is very distinctive, having the added influence of classical training.
In addition to Aranda's Latin Fok blend, the group has borrowed music from Spain, Italy, Puerto Rico, Brazil, and Ecuador. The also added a twist of Cuban rhythms, making it the best 'sancocho' (mix) in the world. - Robert Alfonso Jr.


"Dirty Linen Magazine"

The five person ensemble Solazo ('blazing sun') presents 13 cuts that tastefully move between the Andean, Afro-Cuban,and Chilean experiences of the members of the group. Lead singer and guitarist, Pepe Aranda, incorporates guitar elements from his classical training with a light but soulful voice. The tunes have an airy, light quality, be they lively dance driven numbers or romantic reflections. - KD


"CoMMA, Morganton, NC"

Without a doubt, Solazo is one of the finest music ensembles to play Morganton. Their musicianship, harmonies, and talents well surpass expectations. Even their rapport with an English-speaking audience, with their speaking in Spanish, is remarkable. My first impression was one of skepticism, but all doubt was removed once they completed the first number.
Presenters who are shy about Latin Folk music in the Solazo style need not worry. They will revive audiences to sit up and take notice. Solazo is a best kept secret, and I am happy to let the cat out of the bag. I encourage all presenters to bring them to their stage, and I know, they will go away feeling the same way as I do.. impressed , informed, elated and completely satisfied. - Bill Wilson, Director


Discography

SOLAZO- Pepe Aranda 1999
MINDFUL JOURNEYS 2000
NUEVA VIDA 2007

Photos

Bio

Solazo is four (sometimes 5) spirited and talented artists who present a wonderful cross-cultural experience and are committed to encouraging the study, development, and spread of Latin American arts and culture through music, dance, and workshops. Their program is designed to provide a unique educational opportunity for people of all ages and cultures within our local communities. Admired as one of the most musically adventurous Latin bands today, these gentlemen are the real thing…. a treasure of Latin-American culture and music. With superb individual musicianship, each of the members of Solazo meld seamlessly creating an enchanting performance of both traditional and contemporary music.

T H E M U S I C I A N S:

Pepe Aranda - lead singer / guitar / bass guitar.
Pepe has written and performed many compositions during his 35 years as a professional performer, songwriter, and studio musician. Originally from Chile, he began his studies in a music academy, full time, at the age of 7 years old. As a youth Pepe performed exclusively classical music, with an emphasis in violin and piano. Pepe played with the Chilean Youth Symphony for many of these years. Early in his twenties, Pepe became interested in performing more "pop" forms of music and achieved major success with his own groups, "Pepe Aranda Y Los Rockmanticos" and “La Banda Metro”, both of which produced recorded albums. From 1973 to 1975 Pepe was contracted to tour in Italy, where he became familiar with traditional & romantic Italian music. His repertoire includes a full range of traditional Italian folksongs and ballads. In 1986, Pepe was contracted to perform in Ecuador, where he remained and was frequently commissioned to write compositions for various performing artists, and special events. His original compositions have twice won 2nd place in the OTI awards (National Songwriter’s Contest) for best new original songs. From 1987 to 1994, Pepe composed and performed as singer & lead guitarist with the well known Latin rock group "BARRO" for 7 years. Live “Barro” performances took place in many coliseums throughout Ecuador during these years and Pepe’s original songs made it to hit status a number of times. Barro videos were also shown on music TV channels in Ecuador. In 1999, Pepe began his newest project and group “SOLAZO” , which includes two of the members from Barro. Solazo has released 2 CD’s; “Pepe Aranda & Solazo” , and “Mindful Journeys” Both of these works include many of Pepe’s newest compositions. SOLAZO is currently living in Virginia & touring in the USA.

Kike Rodriguez - singer / guitar.
Originally from Chile, Kike began singing as a child and won the “Festival de Cantantes” (festival of singers) in Santiago at the age of 12. He began his public performing career from the age of 14-16 as he toured Chile & Peru with “Tierra Joven”, a young group of folkloric singers. In 1975 he was invited by “Alma de America” to Ecuador to record an album. His talent was so well received that he was then invited to join the group permanently. It is here that he met Miquel Benitez, and began performing in concert settings with their own group “Alma”, and also as a very popular duo. With incredible vocals and harmonies they currently have their own CD available, “Kike & Miquel”, which consists of popular traditional South American folksongs. In 1986 his fame was permanently established while performing as the lead singer for the well known latin rock group “BARRO” (described above).

Miguel Benitez - singer / guitar / bass guitar / dancer.
Originally from Clorinda, Province of Formosa, in northern Argentina Miquel began studying music at a very young age and was performing publically by the age of 14. During the early part of his career he worked with “Estampas Gauchas”, a folkloric group of musicians and dancers. Here he played music and danced “The Malambo” which he stilll currently performs with Solazo in theater settings. Later he toured Bolivia, Paraquay, Peru and Ecuador performing with “Vocal Cuatro”. In 1978 he decided to stay in Ecuador, and became a very popular soloist folk singer for many years. Here he met Kiki and they began working together. In 1986 they joined with Pepe to form “BARRO”, a popular latin rock band which became a hit across the country. Kike and Miquel, who frequently also perform as a duo, currently have their own CD available, “Kike & Miquel” (described above).

Janiah Allen - percussion / translator.
Growing up in both Florida and Ecuador, Janiah has the benefit of a true cross-cultural background and is completely bi-lingual. Raised surrounded by music in Key West Fl., with his father Din Allen a full time performing musician, Janiah absorbed a good feel for musical terrain both in business and art. While living off and on in South America with his mother, he fell in love with Latin music and Ecuador’s state music academy during his early adolescent years. He put toget