Soulsa
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Soulsa

New York, New York, United States

New York, New York, United States
Band Latin Rock

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Music

Press


By Tasha Harris

It is a few minutes before midnight on a wintry Friday as patrons line up outside of D’Antiqua in Jackson Heights, Queens.

The club is jam-packed without a single vacant seat as fans stand wall-to-wall and sit through the opening act and intermission for almost two hours, eagerly awaiting the main event. At around 1:40am, Latin sensation, SOULSA takes the stage. The sound of a familiar rock guitar riff ignites the spirits of the restless crowd who jumps to their feet to dance, sing-shouting the hook to the catchy single, “Mi Negra.”

The handsome quintet is comprised of five New York musicians from Washington Heights: Alberto Diaz (vocals & guitar), Luis Batista (bass), Anibal Collazo (conga & percussion), Tony Rodriguez (bongo) and Juan Gerena (drums). Their distinctive sound is a delectable blend of rock, salsa, jazz and R&B. The band from uptown Manhattan plays a fusion of rock and Afro-Cuban rhythms that’s raw, passionate and energetic. SOULSA has played private performances for Oscar de la Renta, VOGUE Magazine and Time Warner Inc. SOULSA’s edgy sound stands out due to the absence of piano and brass and has a widespread appeal.

To fans old and new, SOULSA’s six-song set in the wee hours were worth the wait. The band’s energy and Diaz’s fiery vocals kept my attention for over an hour, despite the voice in my head that was nagging me to go home and hit the sack. My only complaint: I wish the band had a CD available and were booked more often.

Copyright Talent in Motion - Talent in Motion magazine


Alejandro Maciel
Photos: Freddy Perojo/EDLP

When music runs in your blood, you don't need to make too much effort to play it well. If not, just ask Alberto Díaz, a Washington Heights young musician, half Puerto Rican half Dominican, who early in his teen years showed an interest in expressing his feelings through his music. "While most of my high school classmates hoped they would get money as a graduation present, I always dreamed with buying an electric guitar," says Díaz, who these days can be counted among the young voices of the diverse musical landscape of New York City. "Since I did not have enough money, I put it on lay away," adds Díaz.

Díaz, along with Roger Vásquez, Luis Batista, Aníbal Collado and Carlos Frías, he formed Soulsa, a group that depicts a fine mixture of what being Latino, particularly in Washington Heights -a place where rhythms from Latin American and all over the world converge- means. "We tried to blend all our influences, from rock to hip hop, from R&B to salsa and merengue," explains Díaz while recounting the imprint all these influences have left in the group. "There is everything, from Willie Colón, El Gran Combo, The Beatles, Police, bachata, etc.

One could say that the most important thing about Soulsa is that its music, created by Díaz and his fellow band members, represents an urban voice that tells about the daily lives of the barrio and its youth, about love, sadness, conflict, every day life in general.
It is not easy to be a musician and unknown in a city like this, not just because of the brutal competition but because it becomes a matter of survival. "Our dreams?," says Díaz rhetorically while his mind joggles for the answer. After the pause his usual smile returns to his face and the answer bursts of his mouth: "To reach the sky."

They may still be far from paradise (which translates as to devote oneself completely to the activity that one really likes) but they are going in the right direction, as bookings and gigs begin to pour in. The most recent, on June 25th, at the Audubon Bar & Grill, can attest to that. Today, for this group, been at the gates of heaven can be summed up as getting a chance to show what they know how to do: to sing in the purest New York style. - El Diario newspaper, NYC


MUSIC REVIEW
Soulsa / SOULSA

By Luis C. Molina

The music industry is currently in a semi-eclipse. Formula has become the order of the day while individuality has almost disappeared. No one seems to want to take a risk and break the various bland molds that have been plaguing music the last several years. Luckily, there is a break happening in the mold. Soulsa, like Moses parting the Red Sea, is breaking through the sea of boring, pedestrian music.

I was first introduced to the music and sound of Soulsa at an event at the Julia De Burgos Cultural Center. As a live band, their performances are outstanding. I have not seen or heard playing like this for a long time.Interestingly enough, the best track on this CD was recorded during a live performance. "Mi Negra" literally captures the experience of hearing this band live-they don't pull any punches with their infectious and spontaneous musical arrangements. The energy and enthusiasm of this song makes you want to get up and dance.But Soulsa is not just about making you want to get up and dance-there is something for everyone on this CD."Quisieras tu volver" is an interesting blend of Santana inspired guitar riffs and tropical salsa. "Titulo" is a brutally honest song about gossip and labeling people. "Sudor infiel" is a perfect song-the music and lyrics perfectly complement each. The song, which is candid about a one-night stand, beautifully blends Latin, jazz and Miles Davis into the musical arrangement. Equally stunning are the vocal arrangements. This song really made me smile.

Soulsa is clearly emerging from a vast range of music. Influences are apparent, but they don't define the music. Soulsa has its own sound, which is what makes them so refreshing.

At press time, the band is still unsigned. This is surprising because of the high quality of the CD-not just the sound quality, but the packaging too (check out the excellent photography by Amy Ponce).

If you are tired of the teen scene and the salsa wannabe's, pick up Soulsa's self-titled CD and hear some real musicians move you into the new century.
- LatiKnow.com



Live performances:
SOULSA @VIP Night Club

Friday, June 28th

Soulsa is a Latin group made up of five New Yorkers: Juan Gerena, Luis Batista, Andy Collazo, Alberto Diaz and Antonio Rodriguez. This group is bringing a new mix of rock, jazz and danceable rhythms of salsa combined into one. It is a very unique sound and definitely danceable. The group was formed in 1999 in Washington Heights, NY. If you missed their performance @VIP night-club, you definitely missed a night full of live music featuring different instruments. For example, the bass, congas and the vocals of Alberto Diaz with his guitar. If you appreciate live bands and feel the difference in the atmosphere and the energy of live music when you dance you definitely missed a great band. I think Soulsa was definitely working it live at VIP. It was a treat to have them in the Washington DC area. Check out the pictures of the band and dancers at VIP night -club. - YES 2 SALSA.COM


Soulsa, the adventure of leaving the streets

by Olga Acosta

Soulsa sings to the soul of the streets in a fresh style without the aggression of one who wants to escape the ghetto.

"We mix Afro-Cuban rhythms with rock. Our guitar obeys the clave and not the other way around", explains Alberto Diaz, lead vocalist, guitarist and one of the founding members of the group.

Listening to Soulsa, it is no surprise that Latin blood runs through the veins of its members. Luis Batista, bassist and backup vocalist, was born in New York of Dominican parents; Alberto, was born in Puerto Rico and his parents are Dominican; Antonio Rodriguez, bongo player, is Cuban-Dominican; Juan Gerena, timale and Anibal Collazo, percussionist are both Nuyorican.

The surprise comes when you listen to them play and the chord raise the tone of those who wear long hair and wear leather jackets.

Luis Batista and Alberto Diaz grew up together in Washington Heights. There they created Xperience, a rock band in which they discovered in the 80's that they were destined for music.

10 years later these guys had a rediscovery with their roots and it is when they decided to launch a new adventure of creating something new with old soul. Alberto says, "We've had a lot of luck with the discoveries we've made. I feel lucky to share the stage with such talented musicians".

For Soulsa, it's definitely been the presence of Anibal Collazo who is the one that nurtures the group with musical history and that's why they nickname him "Old Soul"; while Juan is the musical encyclopedia that the rest of the band would like to posess as well as being the person who exercises discipline and professionalism at the rehearsals.

Lillian Pons, their manager, is also part of the group. Alberto says, "Without her we would be lost. It's difficult managing one's self, write songs, make music, find musicians and book shows".

"It's very difficult to manage a group with so much talent" replies Lillian.

Soulsa is more than a band. It's a collection of talents. Lillian is a professional photographer, Alberto is a graphic designer, Luis' expertise lies in publishing rights. Andy has worked in the fashion industry and has a good eye for style. Lillian says, "We are a family that has understood that without cooperation there is no success. That's why we have all put our talents into the band." That's not all. Antonio has performed with such Latin artists as la India and Frankie Negron.

Soulsa overflows with energy and the need to explore new musical frontiers, and the truth is that it's about time that someone took that bland radio-friendly salsa that's out now and gave it a new spin.

To keep up with the band you would simply have to log on to their website at: www.soulsaband.com. You won't regret it.

Copyright El Correo Newspaper - El Correo Newspaper


Discography

We have songs available for streaming and downloading at our website: www.soulsaband.com

Photos

Bio

"An urban voice that grows with every performance". Those are the words that El Diario, the largest spanish language newspaper in New York City, used to describe Soulsa.

Soulsa is a latin group made up of five new yorkers from different musical backgrounds. The group brings a new mix of rock and the Afro-Cuban rhythms of salsa. A good idea, considering the fact that today's latin music is expanding in all different directions. The group was formed in 1999 in Washington Heights, NY. A neighborhood known for its embrace of latin music.

Soulsa contains all the energy of a rock group combined with the sensuality and elegance of today's salsa bands. This pleases the public, both latino and non-latino alike. The absence of piano and brass manages to give the band a less traditional sound, while the guitar brings in a harder edge. Ben Ohmart from “LA Ritmo.com" wrote it best by stating “when Santana broke the mainstream barrier in the 60’s, blending rock with Latin rhythms, they probably had no idea just how far their influence would stretch into the arena 40 years later. Here we are at the latest sensation... Soulsa!” .

Soulsa has played various clubs in New York City such as Nuyorican Poets Café and China Club. They have also performed at private events for Oscar de la Renta, VOGUE magazine, and Time Inc. Most recently, Soulsa was invited to perform at BMI's "Latin Lingo" music showcase for Latin Alternative bands and also peformed live for one of latin tv's biggest channels, Telemundo.

For upcoming shows and more info, please visit our official website as we don't list our shows here. Thanks!

Band Members