Tribute to Joe Cuba

Lehman Center for the Performing Arts continues its spectacular 30th Anniversary Season with Venezuela-born Salsa superstar Oscar D’León, who makes his Lehman Center debut performing such smash hits as “Llorarás,” “Detalles,” “Mi bajo y yo” and “Me voy pa Cali” for one electrifying night on Saturday, Nov. 20 at 8:00 p.m.

Also performing will be Salsa en la Calle’s Willie Villegas in a dazzling “Tribute to Joe Cuba.” The concert is produced by West Side Beat Productions in association with Latin Media Marketing.

Lehman Center for the Performing Arts is on the campus of Lehman College/CUNY at 250 Bedford Park Boulevard West, Bronx, N.Y. 10468.

Oscar D’León was born Oscar Emilio León Samoza in the Parroquia Antínamo section of Caracas, Venezuela. He taught himself to play bass guitar and worked as an auto mechanic by day and bass player by night for local conjuntos. As his reputation grew as a bass player, a skilled and clever improviser and dynamic singer, he founded La Golden Star and Los Psicodélicos.

In 1972, with percussionist José Rodríguez and trombone players César Monge and José Antonio Rojas, he formed La Dimensión Latina, Venezuela’s leading salsa band, recording six albums between 1972 and 1976, and became known as El Sonero del Mundo (the Son Singer of the World).

The band’s 1975 hit “Llorarás” remains perhaps D’Leon’s most famous song. In 1976, he left and organized his own two trumpet/two trombone band, La Salsa Mayor, recording the merengue standard “Juanita Morell” as a guaracha, which became a huge radio hit in Puerto Rico. In 1978 he founded La Crítica, a tribute to the legends of Cuban rumba, and for several years worked constantly, singing with both orchestras.

In 1991, after three years of releasing mostly salsa romántica recordings, he joined an all-star line-up of his new label RMM’s top vocalists, including José Alberto, Tony Vega and Ismael Miranda, plus Celia Cruz, for Tito Puente’s The Mambo King: 100th LP. His most recent release is 2008’s “Tranquilamente: Tranquilo.”

Willie Villegas, leader of Willie Villegas Y Entre Amigos, is a multi-talented artist, playing timbales as well as producing the band’s albums. He also produces and hosts the New York cable TV show Salsa en la Calle.

A Salsa music scene veteran, Villegas has played with such luminaries as Joe Quijano, Eddie Palmieri, Frankie Ruiz, Lalo Rodríguez, Tito Puente, José Fajardo and Paquito Guzmán and has been musical director for Joe Cuba’s Sextet for several years.

In collaboration with Salsa en la Calle, Villegas will perform a tribute to “The Father of Latin Boogaloo,” Puerto Rican legend and Spanish Harlem native Joe Cuba (April 22, 1931 – Feb. 15, 2009).

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