This orchestra of pianist, arranger and producer Oscar Hernández is actually still in its infancy. Hernández and producer Erin Levinson founded it in 2000 and it has already released three albums. The most recent is United We Swing
on which the thirteen-man line-up stokes up a blaze of salsa dura (heavy salsa). Music that proves that El Barrio, a vibrant community in New York to the south of 125th Street, is still a fertile breeding ground for unique, new cultural forms - in this case, hot boogaloo and Latin soul. Oscar Hernández (Porto Rico, 1954) is the driving force behind the success of the Spanish Harlem Orchestra
; all the albums have been nominated for major awards. Hernández himself is from the Bronx, but he feels closely linked to the neighborhood that gives the orchestra its name. 'If you are a Latino in New York, you always have a relationship with Spanish Harlem. It's the place that for me is a microcosm of Latin in New York.'