2. Para los Rumberos
3. Besame Mucho
4. Valdez in the Country
5. Round Midnight
8. Stella by Starlight
It's not surprising that such adjectives as "driving," "powerhouse" and
"sophisticated" pop up when the topic is this exciting, exceptional
Southern California Latin jazz orchestra. Led by trombonist and
arranger Henry Mora and staffed by largely unheralded musicians, the
unit is a throwback to the days when economics permitted full size big
bands to tour and record. Mora's orchestra begins where swing bands
like Basie's ended, adding a full complement of vocalists and a full
Latin rhythm section to the standard big band instrumentation of 16 to
18 musicians. The result is an explosion of tropical swing on a program
salsa-rooted arrangements of jazz and R&B standards and old school
Seductive singer Bertha Oropeza handles the English vocals on such
effective performances as "Lover Man," while Ruben Rodriguez steps up
to the microphone for a scintillating version of Eddie Palmieri's
"Puerto Rico." Throughout the program, Mora's extended mambo section
vamps add orchestral interest to such standards as "Unforgettable" and
the title track.
- Mark Holston
Born in El Paso, Texas USA of Mexican-American heritage, his interest
in music began at age 6 with the violin in elementary school. After a
brief stint with the trumpet, he eventually settled on the trombone,
just before his family moved to Los Angeles, California, at 14 years of
age. His love for music continued into college, where he became
interested in jazz and began writing several Big Band arrangements on
his way to a Bachelor's Degree from California State University, Los
Angeles. In the following years, he worked as a freelance musician with
various groups, to include tours with the Si Zentner Orchestra, Glenn
Campbell and Bobbie Gentry.
In 1969, he was called to serve in the Army and sent to fight in
theVietnam War. After 5 months of combat infantry as "point man" in a
Recon Platoon, he was commissioned by an Army General to organize a
band to entertain the troops and raise the morale. The band, "The
Redcatcher Express" developed into a unique experience in the military,
which prompted a book by the same name "The Redcatcher Express," and is
available on www.airleaf.com .
After completing his tour-of-duty in Vietnam, his freelance career
started-up again, to include a 14-month tour with reggae artist, Johnny
Nash where he shared the stage with R&B groups such as The Commodores,
The O'Jays, Minnie Ripperton, The Isley Brothers, The Ohio Players and
many more. In 1976 he organized a salsa band "Orquesta Siva," which was
picked to open for the "Rolling Stones" 1976 Tour of the Americas, for
5 consecutive nights at the Los Angeles Forum.
This led to the start-up and leadership of another group, "The Los
Angeles Salsa All-Stars," which was comprised of the finest musicians
in Los Angeles.
Seen in picture from left to right: Jose "Perico" Hernandez, Arturo
Velasco, Alex Acuna, Oscar Meza, Jorge Luis Balsameda, Pat Reagh, Yari
More, Carlos Navarro, Bobby Rivas, Harry Kim, Glenn Ferris, Henry Mora,
Pete Tollen, Louis Gonzales and Luis Conte.
In 1993, he returned to college and completed a Masters Degree in
Music. It is during this time that the concept for the "Henry Mora
Orchestra" surfaced. Patterned after the orchestras of the Big Band Era
such as Count Basie, Tommy Dorsey, Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller, and
incorporating the musical diversity of his career. The concept involves
combining the classic Big Band style and well-known music of that era,
with salsa, modern jazz harmony, and rhythm 'n blues (R&B).
This musically eclectic group, featuring lyrics in both English and
Spanish, quickly became a popular group among local jazz and latin
musicians in the Los Angeles area. In September 1995, the "Henry Mora
Orchestra" was a featured artist at the "Santa Barbara International
Jazz Festival" held in Santa Barbara, California, and has been
performing in the Southern California area since.
Check our Calendar for specific times and locations to catch the "Henry
Mora Orchestra" performing live.
With the release of the orchestra's first cd, 'Round Midnight came the
opportunity to perform for several Jazz Festivals in Los Angeles, the
Playboy Jazz Festival and the 1st Annual Hollywood Park Jazz Festival
in Inglewood, CA. On May 30, 2004 the Henry Mora Orchestra was a
featured artist at the Playboy Jazz Festival in Pasadena, CA performing
for a crowd of about 35,000 people.
With the 'Round Midnight CD, the orchestra's size grew from 19 to 23
musicians. Featuring the female vocals of Noelia Hernandez, Juliana
Munoz, and Bruni Mercado in both Salsa and Latin Jazz, the orchestra's
focus widened. With the classic salsa styling of NYC Sonero, Martin X,
a local salsa singer and musician the orchestra gained insight into the
"tipico" perspective of salsa. It was a good year for the orchestra,
growing in size and musical concept.
Following this, the On May 30, 2004, Tropico Records released the live
recording of the Henry Mora Orchestra, "Live" at the Montebello Inn.
Also available through CDBaby. This highly energetic performance marks
the debut concert of the orchestra released as a re-mastered recording
of it's performance at the Montebello Inn, in Montebello, CA. A
swinging salsa Big Band jazz recording in a live setting, recorded in
stereo with two microphones on two DAT recorders.
Tropical rhythms and jazz with Big Band arrangements was the concept
for the recording. An exciting, energetic, sophisticated style of Big
Band music that commemorated American jazz and latin standards.
On July 24, 2004 the Henry Mora Orchestra performed at the 1st Annual
Hollywood Park Jazz Festival in Inglewood, CA. It's success is
published in Inglewood Today Magazine and the U Entertainment Section
of Newspapers in the Pasadena Star News, the San Gabriel Valley News,
The Whittier news, and the Inland Empire's Daily Bulletin. Several
reviews followed in the Whittier News, the L.A Times Calendar and
personal biographic history of Henry Mora, story by Paul Anderson in
the Inland Empire's Daily Bulletin Newspaper.
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